The Children's Aid Blog

Dr. Carrera Presented With a Key to St. Petersburg

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The Children’s Aid Society’s very own Dr. Michael A. Carrera was recognized for his important work in the field of adolescent sexuality last week at a meeting of the St. Petersburg City Council, where he was presented with a key to the city. The Pinellas County Health Department in St. Petersburg has replicated his nationally recognized Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program.

In 1984, Dr. Michael A. Carrera and The Children's Aid Society developed an Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program that uses a holistic approach to empower youth. The program’s objective is to help teens develop personal goals and the desire for a productive future, in addition to developing their sexual literacy and educating them about the consequences of sexual activity. Most recently, Dr. Carrera was appointed vice president and director of adolescent services at Children's Aid.

The Children’s Aid Society congratulates Dr. Carrera on this recognition.

Food Justice Hits the Streets!

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Students in The Children’s Aid Society’s Food Justice After-School Program have hit the streets to conduct their very own community food assessment. The Food Justice Program empowers young people to explore what food means to them and to their community. These students, from Children’s Aid Community Schools P.S. 50 and P.S. 211 and from the East Harlem Center, are asked to consider the challenges their neighbors face as they struggle to feed their families healthy meals, and to propose projects aimed at increasing community wellness.

As the first part of this community assessment, the youth targeted local food establishments in their East Harlem and South Bronx communities which included restaurants, street cart vendors, local bodegas and supermarkets. The children paid close attention to what types of food were being sold, the quantity and quality of fruits and vegetables and what foods were displayed at the entrances.

The youth went on to interview members of their communities, asking them if they are satisfied with the available food choices in their environment and what changes, if any, would they make in their environment regarding food.

During this assessment, one could see the concept of food justice take root in each student’s mind. All the conversations about healthy food access, food systems and hunger went from abstract ideas to real issues affecting the people around them.

Stay tuned for our next program update, as the students compile their data and choose a community project to focus on.

Hundreds Advocate on Behalf of School-Based Health Centers in Albany

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School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) got a much deserved spotlight on February 12 during an all-day advocacy event in Albany. Over 500 hundred SBHC supporters—mostly students, parents and teachers—from around the state visited Albany to urge legislators to hold SBHCs harmless in this year’s budget.

The Children’s Aid Society operates five school based health centers, which were represented by a group of 20 parents and students from Salomé Ureña Campus (SUCA) who had been recruited by parent coordinator Lidia Aguasanta. 

The day began with an energetic rally; students, caregivers and teachers fired up the crowd through personal testimony of how SBHCs had helped students stay healthy and safe. Young people of all ages told stories of being able to access the necessary vaccines to attend school, the great strides they had made through the mental health services provided to them and having emergency cuts and scrapes attended to with no time wasted. Teens focused on the care they received as student athletes, the ability to access working papers and the reproductive health services and resources they were able to utilize.

Caregivers spoke of the newfound ease they had found in leaving their children with chronic asthma at school for the day. “My son has chronic asthma,” said Maria Morales, whose child attends sixth grade at M.S. 322 in SUCA. “I used to always work with my cellphone next to me because I knew that at any time I could get a call asking me to meet my child at the hospital. This school year he hasn’t had any hospitalizations.” As the students and the adults in their lives spoke at the microphone, the crowd cheered, clapped and waved blue pom-poms to show their support for SBHCs. Everyone from the youngest student to the eldest grandparent who had traveled to Albany in support of SBHCs made her voice heard.

The testimony did not end there. Participants eagerly met with elected officials to continue in the spirit of the rally. State senators and assembly members listened to the accounts of why SBHCs ensure better access to preventative health care, health education and treatment for young New Yorkers. Supporters were delighted to see our elected officials agree that SBHCs make good common sense, and we all look forward to seeing their continued support.

Written by Sharon Weintraub, SBHC Health Educator at SUCA and MSC

Frederick Douglass Youth Celebrate Fashion Week

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Recently arriving in New York City for fashion week, Australian-based clothing company Dresscode Initiative gave back to the community by hosting a fashion celebration at Children’s Aid’s Frederick Douglass Center.

After school ended on Wednesday, over 50 Frederick Douglass students were greeted with cupcakes and balloons as they entered the gymnasium for this special day. The youth participated in activities including balloon blowing, coloring and a story telling exercise. Volunteers from Dresscode Initiative then unwrapped the clothing that they brought as gifts, and the kids were able to choose from hundreds of scarves, shoes, boots, hats, shirts and pants to take home.

Founded in 1958, The Frederick Douglass Center provides essential services to children and families on Manhattan's Upper West Side, including a Head Start program for 3- to 5-year-olds, after-school activities, English-language training for adults and more.

The Children’s Aid Society and The Frederick Douglass Center would like to thank Dresscode Initiative for their tremendous generosity, making fashion week a special time to celebrate for our kids.

View more pictures from this event in our photo gallery.

New Grant Will Help Children’s Aid Create Cradle to College Pipeline in the South Bronx

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The Children’s Aid Society and Phipps Community Development Corporation (Phipps CDC) have been awarded a $300,000 planning grant from JPMorgan Chase Foundation to develop a cradle-through-college pipeline initiative in the South Bronx. The project will employ an emerging model of multi-sector collaboration, known as collective impact, to promote student success in the Morrisania neighborhood, where 65 percent of children are born into poor families and just 7 percent of adults are college graduates.

Collective impact—a strategy based on the premise that no single organization can affect large-scale, lasting social change alone—has been applied successfully in education reform to boost rates of children adequately prepared for kindergarten, reading and math scores, and high school graduation rates. Through it, collaborating organizations tackle complex, systemic problems by creating a centralized infrastructure, allocating staff to the initiative and creating a process marked by five characteristics: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and systems-level coordination.

A short write-up in Crain’s New York Business describes the grant.

Youth Visit Legislators in Albany to Campaign for Summer Jobs

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On Tuesday, January 29, youth from The Children’s Aid Society’s Lasting Investments in Neighborhood Connections (LINC) program traveled to Albany with other young people from all around the city to meet with state legislators as part of the annual Youth Action Day. These young adults, LINC participants from Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank and the Next Generation Centers, wanted to demonstrate to elected officials the importance of summer jobs and the positive effects programs such as Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) have on the youth of New York City. LINC is a juvenile justice re-entry program operated by The Children’s Aid Society. Its participants are youth who have returned home from juvenile justice facilities and are matched with a life coach who works with them to increase their social and emotional competencies and decrease their probability of recidivism. SYEP is especially important to this group set as they work towards once again blending with their families and communities, and it helps to increase their employability by giving them new skill sets and work experience.

The Youth Action Day in Albany is put together by the Campaign for Summer Jobs, a coalition of more than 100 organizations that provide summer employment to youth all over New York City. Since 1999, the Campaign for Summer Jobs has mobilized young people, youth organizations and communities to fight for continued funding of SYEP. Due to cuts in federal, state and city funding, the city’s SYEP had about 22,000 fewer jobs in the summer of 2012 than in 2009. Given these cuts, this year’s annual Youth Action Day was an important way for legislators hear about the positive influences that the SYEP program has on young people.

The day’s agenda included a youth rally in the Legislative Office Building, at which State Senators and Assembly Members from all over the city addressed the crowd. The rally also included dance and spoken word performances by youth, and an open mic discussion for all to take part in. Youth organizations also had the opportunity for more intimate meetings with the offices of the state legislators later on in the day.

For many, including youth from The Children’s Aid Society, summer employment is a way to stay off the streets and contribute to their households. Youth also use income earned during their summer youth employment to buy school supplies—which are often very expensive—for the upcoming year. All SYEP participants make lasting connections and build relationships in the workplace while expanding their resume. Whatever the reason for taking part in SYEP, they all have positive outcomes for our youth. We need to continue to fight for more SYEP opportunities to ensure that young people are using their time off from school productively and that as a city we are making a lasting investment in the next generation.

For more information on the Campaign for Summer Jobs and what you can do to help, click here.

Children's Aid College Prep Charter School Application Now Available

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The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School has made available its 2013-2014 lottery application. The lottery system for this charter school located in the Morrisania section of the Bronx is open to all students but will once again prioritize students with specific needs or vulnerabilities.

As with other lotteries, all applicants will receive one entry for applying. Additional entries will be given to those students who meet the following criteria:

  • 1. Students who come from single-parent households
  • 2. Students from households below the NY self-sufficiency standard
  • 3. Students who have not attended a full-day kindergarten
  • 4. Students who are English language learners
  • 5. Students who have been involved in the child welfare system

For example, a student who is from a single-parent household and who has been involved in the child welfare system will receive a total of three entries.

The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School welcomed 120 students in kindergarten and first grade in its inaugural year and will eventually serve approximately 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The school is accepting applications for grades K-2 through Monday, April 1, 2013 and the lottery will be held on April 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Children’s Aid College Prep, 1919 Prospect Avenue in the Bronx.

To apply in English or Spanish, visit http://childrensaidcollegeprep.org/2013-2014-enrollment.

For more information, visit our website: www.childrensaidcollegeprep.org.

Richard Buery on the Huffington Post: After Newtown, Arming Parents and Schools Against Violence

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The tragic events in Newtown have led to many important conversations about guns, school safety and mental health services.

Like many who work with children and families in high-poverty communities across the country, my colleagues at The Children's Aid Society have too much experience seeing young people with incredible promise killed by guns. In the last five years alone, 10 young people in our care were murdered and many more have had a friend or family member killed by guns.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all children have every opportunity to live free from violence.

Read my latest piece on the Huffington Post.

First Campaign for Children Town Hall at Milbank

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On Tuesday, January 8, more than 100 advocates, parents, children and providers gathered at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center for the first Campaign for Children town hall meeting of 2013. The event is the first in a series of town halls across the five boroughs that the Campaign for Children will host to encourage advocacy activities around child care and after-school programs during the upcoming City budget process.

Milbank Center Director Casper Lassiter welcomed the crowd and reminded all how important it is to come together and fight for these vital programs. He noted that the center’s after-school slots for elementary school students were not funded last year, which meant that Milbank served 100 fewer children from the community. Parents whose children attend early childhood and after-school programs expressed the heartache they would feel if they were to lose what they consider a lifeline.

The grandmother of one child, Chase, who has been unable to attend Milbank afterschool program due to the budget cuts, shared with the group his grief. His grandmother says Chase constantly asks what he did wrong to be cut from the program.  To Chase, just like all of the children who go to this center, Milbank was his home away from home and staff were his family, too.

Council Member Gale Brewer said she shared the crowd’s discontent with the instability of funding for these critical services for children. She strongly encouraged parents to meet with their local elected officials to let them know they are being held accountable to do right by New York City’s children. Brewer also applauded the Campaign’s work over the last year and advocates’ role in pushing for restoration of funding for these programs, which help parents keep their jobs and support their families and while providing a safe haven and caring environment for children.

Visit the Campaign for Children’s website here for more information on other events and sign up to be a member of the Campaign. Make your voice heard today!

East Harlem Anti-Violence Campaign Wins Top Prize

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The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center Keystone Club focused its 2012 community service efforts on an anti-violence campaign (called “WHY?”) to bring attention to the prevalence of gang violence and child abuse in the community. The East Harlem Keystone Club provides young people ages 14 to 18 with unique leadership development opportunities, career preparation and community service.

Throughout the year, the East Harlem Keystone youth organized rallies, press conferences, town hall meetings and forums in order to raise awareness on violence in their community and to do outreach to those affected by or who are at risk of experiencing child abuse or gang violence.

Along the way, they collaborated with East Harlem Center Torch Club members with the intention of taking their concerns to elected officials and reaching out to younger kids before they get pulled into gangs or abusive situations. The members worked tirelessly to organize a child abuse information room for parents and youth. Through their hard work and efforts, the group raised almost $1,000, which they donated to a charity that helps victims of child abuse.

This past November, members of the club took home the first place award for their project at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America 2012 North East Regional Keystone Conference.

Inspired by the efforts of the Keystone Club, most of the eighth grade Torch Club members that collaborated in this powerful campaign, as well as a few teens that attended an Anti-Violence Youth Forum, have now joined the East Harlem Keystone Club.

Choosing anti-violence as their community service theme this year had a tremendous and positive impact on the entire East Harlem community.