How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?

Many schools and organizations hold activities for kids of all ages. The Parents' League Association is a great network; it can be reached at +1 212 737-7385.
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Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?

If you have kids, your first NYC stop should be the Parents' League. As a member of this organization you get help on all aspects of family life -- from selection of private schools and summer camps to babysitters. The group publishes a book on toddler activities and maintains a wonderful resource center in its office. The League is cited regularly as THE source on family matters by the local press.
There are two agencies recommended for helping you secure an au pair. You should call them about services and fees:
Au Pair in America: +1 800 727-2437
Au Pair/Homestay USA: +1 202 408-5380
Child Care, Inc. is a not-for-profit resource center that can help with the nanny search. They will give you a list of agencies, tell you about your legal responsibilities and advise you on search techniques.
Call +1 212 929-4999 for an information package.
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Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.

The concerns of parents are the same as those in other very large urban areas. Often the perception is that living in an urban area entails a greater risk to children due to higher crime rates. However, New York City has become a safer city to live in and to enjoy 24/7, with security patrolling the different areas all day long.
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What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?

Parks offers New Yorkers access to 35 recreation centers, ten Urban Park Ranger nature centers, and hundreds of softball fields, basketball courts, cricket fields, football and soccer fields, tennis courts, golf courses, ice skating rinks, roller hockey rinks, marinas, bike paths and more . There are also 14 miles of beaches and 53 outdoor pools. Plus, there are many facilities exclusively for children, such as:
The Children's Museum of Art: +1 212 941-9198
Children's Museum of Manhattan: +1 212 721-1234
Playspace: +1 212 769-2300
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What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?

In an effort to promote cultural, recreational, and academic enrichment, parks offer after school programs in 27 recreation centers citywide. Programs feature the instruction of talented teachers in the fields of literacy, performing arts and visual arts.
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What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a parent?

Being a teenager in New York City is just like being a teenager anywhere else, except that in the city they won't need to drive. Parents need to be aware of their teenager just as they would anywhere else.
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Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?

There is a variety of all-ages clubs in New York, as well as many organizations such as Scouts. The local YMCA will also offer a variety of activities for your children to engage in.
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I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to teach young people about the local culture?

The best way to soak up the local culture is just to immerse yourself in it. The fact that there's a seemingly endless list of activities, festivals and fairs throughout the year simply makes it easier. Some quintessential New York experiences you might want to try include: going to Central Park, attending a baseball game at Yankee or Shea Stadium, going to one of New York's many museums and looking out at the city from the top of the Empire State Building. A trip to Ellis Island may also help you understand how the city became the diverse melting pot that it is today.
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