The Children's Aid Blog

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.

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

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In Richard Buery's latest Huffington Post piece, he responds to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, emphasizing the need for stricter gun control and more effective mental health care.

"It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all children have every opportunity to live free from violence. Offering the hope of a better future by providing families with a path out of poverty is critical. Providing access to mental health supports in schools and communities is essential. And so is common sense gun control.”

Read the complete column on The Huffington Post

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter (@RichardBueryCAS)

Fannie Lou Hamer H.S. Women's Boutique

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On December 13, Fannie Lou Hamer High School, a Children’s Aid community school, held a Women’s Boutique to honor its mothers with an evening dedicated to pampering and care. Close to 50 mothers, grandmothers, aunts and guardians attended this evening event built around their financial, emotional and mental wellness.

The New York City Office of Financial Empowerment provided the women with useful information on how to protect their credit and identity, and how to obtain free or low cost tax return preparation assistance. The representatives were available the entire evening to answer any private questions the women had as well. Another important topic was daily stress and finding methods to prevent or to cope with it. On hand was a practitioner of modern Eastern medicine, who gave the women useful tips on how to avoid or cope with every day stresses.

The women also were treated to amazing musical performances from students, and a healthy and tasty dinner. What’s more, each participant left with gifts. In partnership with World Vision, TD Bank and Dress Barn, guests took home bath and beauty products and had the opportunity to choose a new outfit or two from racks of brand new clothing donated by Dress Barn.

Visit this event's photo gallery to view more photos.

 

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

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High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

  1. REASSURE CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE SAFE. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. MAKE TIME TO TALK. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or housework. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feeling
  3. KEEP YOUR EXPLANATIONS DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE.
  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
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  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
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  • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
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Click here to read more Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers