The Children's Aid Blog

Associates Council Seventh Annual Spring Benefit

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On March 30, 2017, the Associates Council of The Children’s Aid Society will host its Seventh Annual Spring Benefit at the Manhattan Penthouse from 7:00-10:00 p.m. 

The Seventh Annual Spring Benefit is the Associate Council’s flagship fundraising event, and will bring together 250 professionals from the tri-state area for a spectacular night of delicious food, cocktails, and dancing! The event features a premium open bar, heavy passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations, a photo booth, and a live DJ. Guests will also have the chance to purchase tickets towards a luxury raffle, with prizes including airline tickets, hotel stays, fitness classes, tickets to sporting and art events, and more.

All net proceeds from the event will support the School Age Division of Children’s Aid, which works with young people in elementary and middle school to ensure that they are realizing their potential and positioning themselves for success in and beyond the classroom. The School Age Division serves over 10,000 young people in Washington Heights, Harlem, East Harlem, the Bronx, and Staten Island, providing a wide range of programming, including education, arts, sports, and health and wellness both during and after the school day as well as on the weekends. After-school programs are delivered across 21 community schools and centers, including our Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School in the Bronx.  The division also runs 15 summer camp programs span schools, community centers, and our Wagon Road Camp in Chappaqua, NY.

For tickets, donations, or raffle ticket purchases, please visit picatic.com/TheSpringBenefit2017.

For more information about the event, sponsorship opportunities, or Children’s Aid, please contact Malia Poai, Director of Events, at events@childrensaidsociety.org or 212-284-4591.

 

A Golden Work Anniversary

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On average, American workers stay at their jobs for about four years.

Carolyn Masters has beaten that by a factor of 12…and then some.

She came to work for Children’s Aid in 1967, before Neil Armstrong had taken the first steps on the moon. We were her second employer, and we can’t imagine that she’ll ever know another one. Not long out of Fordham University’s graduate school for social work, Carolyn started with us in what was known then as the natural parent unit. “I worked with young pregnant women, most of them single,” said Carolyn. “I helped them plan and make the best decision for the child, themselves, and their family.”

Ever since that time, Carolyn has been working to make sure children have safe, loving homes. Laws evolve, the nomenclature changes—her title is now quality improvement specialist—but she still gets the same joy when she knows things have happened for the best.

“It’s wonderful when you can see and hear about happy results,” said Carolyn. “I’ve seen so many wonderful situations, youngsters with severe deficits who were adopted and are doing well. Those are the things that give you a great deal of satisfaction.”

Her commitment to working for children and families is amazing. Her secret for job satisfaction really seems more like simple but insightful advice. “Enjoy the parts of the job you can,” she said. “Not every part is enjoyable. Be realistic. Be honest. And be grateful for the parts that work out happily.”

As you might expect, she’s generous in giving credit for her fulfillment with Children’s Aid. “I’ve always felt so fortunate in my coworkers,” said Carolyn. “What a lovely bunch of people to have to work with. That’s been such a pleasure.”

Thank you, Carolyn, for your dedication and making the work a pleasure. 

Little Learners, Enormous Impact

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Despite mounds of evidence proving how critical a child’s first years are in his development and learning, the United States is still far behind most other developed countries in the way it supports families to ensure toddlers get all they need. This is especially true for families that struggle economically, who simply can’t afford to take unpaid leave from work and who often have difficulty finding high-quality child care.

That’s why we were honored to work with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF on a screening and panel discussion of a very important film: “The Beginning of Life.” (You can stream the film on Netflix.)

The film is one aspect of UNICEF’s newly launched Early Childhood Development (ECD) Campaign to increase global understanding and engagement around the importance of nutrition, stimulation, protection, and love in the earliest years of life, and to grow investment in that work. The organization’s goal, according to its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is that all governments should “ensure all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care, and preprimary education, so that they are ready for primary education.”

Moria Cappio, our vice president of Early Childhood programs, moderated a panel that featured Caitlin McCurn, with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF; Stephanie Gendell from Citizens' Committee for Children; and James Matison of the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society. Among the many things they have in common is a steadfast commitment to advocate for stronger early childhood development programs, here in New York City and across the nation. 

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A Month of Reading on the Rug

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In honor of National Reading Month, Children’s Aid is celebrating the most critical time for children to develop strong reading and literacy skills: early childhood. Children’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict their third-grade reading achievement. However, many children from lower-income households can hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than those from higher-income households. A simple and fun way intervention to keep children engaged at home happens to be story time.

We have teamed up with prominent, award-winning children’s authors for our inaugural “Reading on the Rug” series throughout March. Ten authors will read their original works to the 3-5 year olds in our early childhood classes to celebrate the importance of story time and reading to children regularly. Chosen books will also explore identity, diversity, and community—themes that will create strong foundations for our little ones’ ever-growing intellectual curiosity and help cement their love of reading early.

We’ve listed the authors and their works below, and we will be posting pictures of their readings at our sites throughout March. You can also join us at home by following our “Reading on the Rug” series on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Show us what you’re reading with your young ones: post pictures or video of story time and tag us @childrensaidnyc #ReadingOnTheRug.

We look forward to reading on the rug with you!

Yangsook Choi started drawing at age 4, and loved telling her grandma stories. Born and raised in Korea, she moved to New York to study art. She has written and illustrated many books for young readers, which have been acclaimed as "Best of the Best" by the Chicago Public Library, included on the American Library Association Notable Book list, selected by PBS Reading Rainbow. Yangsook has received the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award.

Nina Crews uses photography and collage to create distinctive picture books. Her stories draw inspiration from the children and neighborhoods of Brooklyn – her home for more than 25 years. Her books have received rave reviews and been selected by the Junior Library Guild, ALA Notable Committee, and Bank Street College of Education. Her latest books are “The Neighborhood Sing-Along” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and lived in San Francisco. She’s the author and illustrator of “Let’s Go Hugo!,” “Santiago Stays,” “Knit Together,” and “Maria Had a Little Llama,” which received the American Library Association Pura Belpré Illustration Honor.

Zetta Elliott was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. in 1994. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. She is the author of more than 20 books for young readers, including the award-winning picture book “Bird.” Zetta is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing.

Thyra Heder is the author of “Fraidyzoo,” an ALA-ALSC Notable Book, “The Bear Report,” and the forthcoming “Alfie: (The Turtle That Disappeared),” a picture book about the friendship between a girl and her pet turtle told from both points of view, available fall 2017. She is also an illustrator and storyboard artist for film and advertising and lives in Brooklyn.

Teddy Lykouretzos is 10 (1/2) years old and lives in Manhattan. He is currently in fourth grade. In his spare time, Teddy loves to bake, complete Technic Lego sets, read science fiction books, and practice yoga. Teddy also loves to ride his bike on trails, swim, kayak, and fly drones. Before Teddy turned 10, he wrote his first book, “The Absolute Best Guide for Stuffed Animal Caretaking.” He not only wrote the entire book by himself, but he also was the photographer for the book. Teddy has recently started writing his second book.

Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning author and illustrator of picture books. His first book with Kate Messner, “Over and Under the Snow,” was praised for its "stunning retro-style illustrations" (New York Times), and was a 2011 New York Times Editor's Choice and an E.B. White Honoree in 2012. Christopher’s author debut titled “Everyone” was praised by Publisher's Weekly as "simple, honest, lyrical."

Evan Turk is the award-winning illustrator of the “Grandfather Gandhi” books and the author/illustrator of “The Storyteller.” Originally from Colorado, he now lives in the Hudson River Valley and loves traveling and learning about other cultures through drawing.

James Yang was born in Oklahoma and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA degree in communication arts and design. James has won over 250 awards for design and illustration excellence including best of show from 3×3 Magazine. James currently lives in Brooklyn where he happily works for a variety of clients worldwide, both book publishers and animators.

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Join Us to Run the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon!

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In 2016, to further foster the health and wellness of New Yorkers, Children’s Aid joined forces with New York Road Runners as an official charity partner of the TCS New York City Marathon. The team, comprised of eight philanthropic runners, raised more than $35,000 to support Children’s Aid’s mission to help children living in poverty to succeed and thrive.

We’re thrilled to be back at it for the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, and are looking for new teammates to join Team Children’s Aid! In 2017, Team Children’s Aid runners will train—with the support of a virtual coach—to race the 26.2-mile marathon through New York City’s five boroughs, and will raise critical dollars to support Children’s Aid’s work.

To learn more about the benefits of running with Team Children’s Aid and/or to fundraise with the team if you already have guaranteed entry, please visit us here

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El Centro NYC and Children’s Aid Host Know Your Rights Event

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It has been an incredibly destabilizing time for many immigrant communities across New York City and the nation. So many families have questions about how to keep their families together and their children safe. Our Early Childhood staff organized a Know Your Rights teach-in for families that have children in our pre-k services, which was graciously led by Favio Ramirez-Caminatti, the executive director of El Centro NYC.

Families in attendance walked away knowing the implications of the latest federal immigration orders, what a warrant looks like, and that they could connect with Children’s Aid staff if they needed any further help. Our mission is to ensure that children, youth, and families are in the best possible position to realize their tremendous potential. If their immigration status threatens that, we’re going to do our best to connect families with the resources they need.

We would like to thank Favio and El Centro NYC for helping us inform our families, and our Early Childhood staff for organizing the event. We’ve included some tips and information packets below. Please feel free to use and share the resources below as needed.

Know Your Rights (English)
Conozca Su Derechos (Español)

Have a plan.
Identify family members or friends who can step in as caretakers or guardians, should the situation arise. If you can, also be sure to update any of your children’s documents at your consulate. Do not present false documents. Be sure to keep all important documents together in a safe place at home in case of emergency.

Talk with your children.
As difficult as it may be to discuss the current climate, try your best to explain your plans with your children, from how to deal with possible immigration officials coming to the home to those surrounding guardians who might need to take care of them should the situation arise. It may be more disorienting to keep them in the dark about any major changes that may occur. Children and youth are not responsible for things that are unfortunately out of their control.

Keep your children in school.
If your child attends a Children’s Aid site or program, remain assured that they are safe in our classrooms. That assurance also applies for all DOE buildings. We want them to continue to thrive in school, so make sure they attend school every day.

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Extending a Helping Hand

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The good people at Phillips Nizer, a midtown law firm, have long had a Valentine’s Day tradition. Every year, they select one of the Children’s Aid clients featured in the New York Times Neediest Cases Campaign—almost always a family that is clearly in need of support—and collectively raise additional funds to help stabilize the family.

This year, they chose Joanna Acevedo and her daughter, Serenity, who was born legally blind. Joanna hasn’t been able to work because she must care for her daughter full time. The 1-year-old’s vision problems are an obstacle to getting day care, and Serenity also requires a number of medical treatments that Joanna administers herself.

Alan Shapiro leads the efforts at Phillips Nizer. This year, attorneys and support staff collected more than $3,000 for Joanna and Serenity, a tremendous show of generosity. 

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February is American Heart Month

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Children’s Aid is proudly participating in American Heart Month. In New York City, more than one in three adult’s lives with cardiovascular disease, and heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in New York. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), many minority populations, including African Americans and Latinos, have a higher risk of suffering from diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. This month the Go!Healthy team would like to remind everyone to consider their heart health when picking out foods to share with their families and loved ones, and think about ways to reduce stress and strengthen their hearts.

Tips for picking out a heart healthy foods:

  1. Find the Fiber—Recipes centered on fruits, vegetables, or whole grains have the greatest sources of fiber. Most adults need about 25-30 grams of fiber in a day.
  2. Read the Labels—Check the nutritional labels of the food you buy. If an item has 5 percent, that’s considered low, while 20 percent or more is considered high. Aim for a low percentage for things like sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, and aim for a high percentage on things like fiber.
  3. Feature herbs and spices—Did you know that parsley and basil have heart healthy properties? Did you know garlic has anti-inflammatory effects and can help protect your blood vessels against oxidative stress? Add herbs and spices to give your kitchen creations an extra boost.

Take care of your heart one step at a time

  1. Deal with Stress—According to the AHA, positive self-talk will help you calm down and control stress.
    Some examples of this include sayings like:
    • I’ll do the best I can.
    • I can handle things if I take one step at a time.
    • I know how to deal with this; I’ve done it before.
  2. Stand up and stretch—Taking time to stand and stretch helps promote blood flow to all parts of your body. Regular stretching practices like yoga and tai chi could help reduce risk of heart-disease long term, and could reduce heart disease risk as much as conventional exercise.
  3. Walk for 30 minutes every day—Walking is a moderate physical activity that is accessible to almost everyone. By walking 30 minutes every day, researchers suggest health benefits like improved body composition, including higher muscle-to-fat ratio, and a decreased risk for things like metabolic syndrome, a disease where you experience high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol.
  4. Talk to your team—Talk with your doctor before starting any physical activity regimen and attend regular checkups often. Talk to your family (and even co-workers) about supporting your health goals.
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Teens: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Children’s Aid is lucky to have a team of in-house teen health experts who are committed to educating their peers about healthy relationships, especially because only 33 percent of teens in abusive relationships will tell someone that they are experiencing partner violence. So our Just Ask Me (JAM) Peer educators are sharing some critical information with us in conjunction with hosting their annual “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” teen event at the Next Generation Center.

What should teens know about partner abuse and dating violence?

Teens should understand that partner abuse is not just physical or sexual. Abuse is enforcing power or control over someone, and can also be emotional or mental, and more and more nowadays it involves technology.

What are some signs of unhealthy dating behaviors?

It can look like your partner is

  • being overprotective or wanting to control how you dress, who you hang out with, etc.;
  • displaying signs of jealousy;
  • projecting their insecurities on you;
  • wanting to monitor your phone, social media use, or your money; or
  • not wanting to use protection during sex.

If someone is experiencing any of these signs in their current relationship, what should they do?

  • Talk it out with your partner first. Communication is important and teens should be comfortable expressing their emotions in a safe and healthy way with their partner.
  • Give yourself and your partner some space and consider what is best for you if things escalate.

What are things teens should keep in mind if experiencing different forms of abuse?

  • Abuse grows over time, so it is important to recognize the more subtle signs of teen dating violence.
  • You shouldn’t have to settle in a relationship, especially if you are unhappy.
  • Know that nothing is wrong with you. You do not deserve to be abused in any way.
  • Do not feel discouraged because you can’t walk away overnight. It’s not always so easy, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend or an adult for help.
  • Partner violence doesn’t discriminate. Abuse can happen in any kind of relationship. The abuser can be any gender.

Where else can teens find help?

  • They can call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474, which is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors and run by loveisrepect.org.
  • They can text “CAS Healthy Teens” at 97-779, and speak to someone or get more information on teen health services.
  • They can also stop by the Children’s Aid Bronx Health Services building at 910 E 172nd Street, third floor if they would like to speak with a health educator or case worker in person.
  • If you are a teen and would like to learn about JAM Peer services, you can visit www.cashealthyteens.org/peer-education

 

 

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Making Theater Accessible

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New York City is the theater capital of the U.S. Millions of tourists come to the city with the goal of seeing a show, and all that demand makes theater-going a little bit expensive.

That’s why it was such a welcome gesture when Lynnea Benson, the artistic director at the Frog and Peach Theatre, contacted us with an offer of free tickets for our kids for one of its Tinkerbell Series shows.

The outing was a smashing success. We thought who better to say why then one of the lucky kids that got to go:

I was really happy to go to the theater to see this play because my favorite princess is Snow White. This play was unique because they switched up the story in their own way and the costumes were beautiful. The Magic Mirror was actually an actor, the Evil Queen was a guy in a pink wig, and the dwarfs were puppets! My favorite character was the Evil Queen because she made such funny faces and when she got the evil spell she spun around the stage and disappeared like a dark shadow!

The woman who owns the theater is really funny. I think her name is Tinkerbell, because it’s called the Tinkerbell Theatre. She took me back stage to see all the sets and props and sound things for all the kids’ plays and grown-up plays, too. It was cool to see how everything works because I never knew what happens behind the curtain. When I peeked into one room and saw all the different costumes hanging up, I got excited and imagined that I could be in a play someday, too.

When I got to hug the actors after the show I felt like I was beaming. They asked all the children if we wanted to make puppets with them. I made two, one named Brittney and one named Whitney. I had a blast and I would love to go back because I’ve never experienced something so awesome!

— Trinity, age 8 (almost 9), 3rd Grade, East Harlem

Many thanks to everyone at the Frog and Peach Theatre for opening up the world of theater to our kids.

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