The Children's Aid Blog

CAS-Carrera Celebrates 26th Annual Parent Graduation

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On Friday, June 1st, The Children's Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) held its 26th graduation ceremony for the Parent Family Life & Sexuality Education program (PFLSE) at Hunter College. PFLSE is a multi-week workshop that encourages New York City parents to be their children’s primary source of sexuality information. Led by bilingual CAS-Carrera Sexuality Educators with peer support from promotores (trained community educators), PFLSE provides parents knowledge and strategic approaches to become more actively involved in their children’s development. Since 1986, more than 3,000 parents and guardians have participated in this no-cost community program, which fosters intergenerational learning and family discussion on this essential issue.

Dr. Michael A. Carrera, who launched CAS-Carrera in 1984, urged the audience of 120 graduates, family, and members of the Children’s Aid Society community to “remember to express our sexuality with joy, dignity and positive feelings for ourselves and others.” He reminded parents and guardians that they have no choice but to be “the primary sexuality educators of your own children…Your only choice is how well or poorly you deliver on that obligation.”

Indeed, the research backs this up. In a recent nation-wide survey, teens say parents most influence their decisions about sex and 87% say it would be much easier for them to postpone sex and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.

Every year, PFLSE Class Valedictorians are chosen to share what they had learned with the audience. Rosalinda Alvira, mother of two sons enrolled in the CAS-Carrera program at the Bronx Preparatory Charter School, observed that “our responsibility as parents is to teach them responsibility in everything they do. Accept and love them just as they are and to accept themselves without fear.” Likewise, Genaro Muñoz, a father of a student at The Children’s Aid Society Community School at P.S./I.S 50, The Vito Marcantonio School, took pride in knowing that he learned “how to be an educator as a parent for my kids and our community.”

We congratulate our graduating parents and their families who will benefit greatly from improving their literacy of one of life’s most important and overlooked subjects.

Richard Buery on the Huffington Post: Let Education Reform Blossom in New York

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Just weeks after President Obama awarded New York State a reform-friendly waiver to onerous federal "No Child Left Behind" education rules, for-profit education firms are threatening to strangle the new reforms in the crib.

At issue is the federal Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, which currently diverts hundreds of millions of federal Title 1 dollars from school districts to outside tutoring providers. A few of these outside groups do good work. But multiple reports and investigations of the SES program have shown bloated budgets, profiteering and corruption. An evaluation of the implementation of SES revealed that providers were providing, on average, only 45 hours of services to these high-need students. And national evaluations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, most recently by the leading educational evaluation firm Mathematica Policy Research, have found that SES has little to no impact on raising student achievement. Current SES programs are often poorly coordinated with school-day instruction, and success is often driven more by marketing budgets than impact on students. New York can put these funds to better use.

NY State Senate Recognizes Children’s Aid at Ercilia Pepin Parent Leadership Institute Graduation Ceremony

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Close to 500 mothers, fathers and grandparents from the Washington Heights and Harlem community schools received certificates of completion from the Ercilia Pepin Parent Leadership Institute (EPPLI) on Saturday, June 9--the biggest number in EPPLI’s history.

New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat (running for US Congress), NY Assemblyman Herman Farrell, NY Councilmember Yidanis Rodriguez, NY Councilmember Robert Jackson, and Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer (potential candidate for NYC mayor) attended the event. Richard Buery, CAS’s CEO and President, Bill Weisberg, COO and Executive Vice President, and Richard Negrón, Director of Community Schools, represented the agency.

Senator Espaillat, who in 2007 founded the institute along with CAS, and has been a strong supporter ever since, gave the agency a proclamation on behalf of the State of New York for its efforts to strengthen the Northern Manhattan community through education and empowerment of its parents and caregivers. CAS gave the Senator a plaque recognizing his longstanding and critical support of family empowerment.

The EPPLI services ease families’ transition into American culture, facilitate relationships of trust with long-time and native-born community residents, guide parents to become well-informed and effective advocates for their children, and help families to become happy and productive members of the community.

The Institute provides opportunities for personal growth and education, including ESL, GED and technology training, as well as vocational skills development, financial literacy and small business development.

After the graduation ceremony, there was an exhibit showcasing examples of Institute programming. A papier-mâché art show featured one artist’s striking recreation of Taino petroglyphs and a cross-generational chess tournament had fathers, mothers, grandparents and children engaged in friendly and fierce competition. Chess is component of EPLI’s educational track that participants have embraced as a family activity with enormous positive cognitive effects for participants of every age.

The Institute team is led by Alma Whitford, Deputy Director of Community Schools, along with Coordinator Fatima Reyes, and includes the very talented and hardworking parent coordinators at the CAS community Schools (Lidia Aguasanta, Nayady Cruz, Carmen Natera, Viviana Ramirez, Lissete Leonor and Perseveranda Cruz).

Youth Face Off in Tasty Cooking Competition

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On Thursday June 7th, elementary and middle schools students from Children’s Aid Society Community Schools and Centers gathered at the East Harlem Center for the delicious food face-off called the Third Annual Iron Go!Chefs competition!

The annual Iron Go!Chefs event is the culmination of our yearlong cooking and nutrition education. Our young chefs work together in the weeks before the event to craft and test an original dish that incorporates one non-meat protein, one whole grain, and at least two vegetables or fruits. On the day of the event, youth competed in a Nutrition Bee and prepared their dishes live for a panel of expert judges. Each team won a prize—whether for best teamwork, most beautiful presentation, or for ethnic flair—and one team in each age group took home the grand prize!

In the elementary competition, students from six community schools competed to wow away the guest judges with their tasty take on school lunches. Judges were Bill Telepan, Owner and Exec Chef of Telepan Restaurant on the Upper West Side and co-founder of Wellness in the Schools, Sally Sampson of Chop Chop Magazine, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo of the 85thDistrict in the Bronx and last but not least, our very own Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. The judges expressed delight and astonishment as dish after dish came to them perfectly prepared. It was a super close call, but C.S. 61’steam took home the award for Best Overall Dish for Pan Seared Salmon with Mediterranean Couscous. Assembly Member Crespo called the event “transformational” and gave a beautiful and impassioned talk to kids about how their dishes had opened his eyes to new foods he has been missing out on.

Competition got even tougher with our six middle school teams. Our guest judges were Rhys Powell, Founder of Red Rabbit, Chef Fernando Marulanda, Corporate Chef for the Tweedy Gomez group (Tappo, Gruppo, Posto and other thin crust pizza restaurants), Chef Alexander Smalls, Elsie Encarnacion (Youth Services Director for Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito) and Elana Wilf, friend and generous funder of our program through The Wilf Family Foundation. To the participants’ surprise, East Harlem’s very own Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez  stopped by and addressed the students about how important nutrition and healthy foods are. The South Bronx was on fire and I.S. 98 won the middle school competition with their delicious Potato-Encrusted Tilapia with Summer Fruit Salsa and Red Quinoa.

This was truly a day of fun, hard work and new food journeys. To say the least, the 2012 Iron Go! Chefs Competition is a highlight of the year! Congrats to all the participants and their teachers for all their hard work and for making healthy foods a cause for community celebration!

Parents and Advocates Continue Efforts to Save Programs; Parents Bring to Life Startling Statistics in Campaign’s Report

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Days away from learning if the Mayor’s proposed budget in which more than 47,000 children will lose access to child care and after-school programs is adopted, advocates throughout the city are continuing their efforts to send a clear message to Mayor Bloomberg. The scorching heat and blinding sun couldn’t keep dozens of parents, elected officials and child care advocates from gathering at the steps of City Hall yesterday afternoon to release the Campaign for Children’s latest impact brief which highlights how specific communities, with the highest statistics, would particularly be hit the hardest with these cuts. 

Along with this report, many parents were on hand to speak on behalf of their child’s program, not one with any possible alternative child care come September. They recounted for the crowd how they themselves benefitted from child care services, allowed them to continue working to provide for their families and now as parents provides a safe haven for their children and prepares them for the future. “Mayor Bloomberg says he loves New Yorkers, but he is treating the smallest constituents like they do not even matter” said one parent, who was referred to other alternative after-school programs for her two children but not one has an available spot. “When you abandon a child, you get ACS, but he is abandoning all the children, what will he get?” said another mother through tears who credits her 15 year old daughter’s high school success to the tutoring she received at her after-school program.

Robin Fleshman, The Children’s Aid Society’s Assistant Community Schools Director in the Bronx, shared some particularly devastating statistics for the Morrisannia section in the Bronx. In a community where only 27.1% of children are performing at or above grade level in reading and over 58% of children are living below the federal poverty level, Morrissania is set to face 91% reductions in its programs.

If these cuts are not restored in the final budget due June 30th, thousands of New York City families will lose access to programs that keep children safe and learning while parents are at work. The City of New York cannot afford to cut child care or after-school programs for even a single child. We urge the Mayor and City Council to stand up for children and working families, and fully fund child care and after-school in the final budget. Find out what you can do to make your voice heard at www.childrensaidsociety.org/take-action and http://www.campaignforchildrennyc.com.

Richard Buery's Essay “Can We Save the City’s Children?” Published in The Atlantic

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The following is an excerpt from Can We Save the City's Children?, by Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children's Aid Society, published as part of The Atlantic’s essay series, America the Fixable.

"Engaging the local community is vital to the rehabilitation process. For young offenders, receiving supportive services in their home communities, where they can remain connected to families and local institutions, offers the most reliable path for ensuring that they do not grow up to become lifelong criminals. For most children convicted of minor infractions, effective services can be provided while they live at home, avoiding the costs and negative impact of institutionalization. Yet for the past few decades we have failed troubled youth--the vast majority of them black and Latino (84 percent of all admissions in 2009)--by shipping them to juvenile detention facilities hundreds of miles away from home, often for minor infractions."

Continue reading: Can We Save the City's Children?

Children’s Aid Youth Talk Foster Care with One-Man Musical Performer

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Participants of The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center attended a performance of the one-man musical From Foster Care to Fabulous by Patrick Burns earlier this month. The musical is based on his experience living in four foster homes between the ages of 14 and 17. The youth were very impressed and inspired by Patrick’s story and were also excited to participate in a “Talk Back” after the show which included several foster care professionals.

 “The kids were really impressive during the “Talk Back” and expressed themselves honestly and with some serious charm!” said Natalia Giordano of The Next Generation Center

The Next Generation Center (NGC) is a one-stop center in the Morrisania section of the Bronx designed to support young people with a service delivery and program approach designed to support the needs of youth in foster care and those who have aged out of foster care as well as those involved in the Juvenile Justice System. NGC offers job readiness training and subsidized internships, educational guidance and advocacy, legal counseling, housing assistance, and life skills, creative and visual arts, multimedia, fitness and recreational programming.

Patrick is graciously donating the proceeds from the run of the show to The Children’s Aid Society. “I’m very excited and proud bring the show to New York City where all proceeds will benefit the Children's Aid Society, an organization that provides adoption, foster care, health, and education services to underserved children and families in New York City," Burns said.

Proud Washington Heights Parents Graduate, Better Equipped for Work Force and Economy

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On Saturday June 9, the Fifth Annual Ercilia Pepin Parent Leadership Institute Graduation ceremony took place. Over 100 participants gathered at the Mirabal Sisters Campus to celebrate their accomplishments which was followed by an exhibition in the cafeteria of their acquired and perfected skills.

The Children’s Aid Society’s Parent Leadership Institute was designed to help immigrant families overcome the social, cultural, financial and linguistic challenges that they face while building a solid bridge between the school, its parents and the surrounding community.  A critical intervention is to increase the employability of its participating parents. As a result theme specific trainings and workshops are offered such as baking and upholstery as well as on starting a small business. Parents are also connected to community resources and local organizations that further advance their goals.

Richard Buery, President and CEO of the Children’s Aid Society and Richard Negron, the Community Schools Director, addressed the parents to let them know that their accomplishments were instrumental not only in their own lives but in the lives of their children. The parents were applauded by many of the local elected officials of the Washington Heights community. Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Council Members Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, State Assembly Member Herman Farrell and State Senator Adriano Espaillat all reiterated that the graduates had achieved great things and were on a path of being more successful in their lives overall. Senator Espaillat presented a proclamation to the parents and staff of the institute, which was especially important given his role in the planning and start-up of the Institute. The Senator also presented Certificates of Achievement to the parents.

The exhibit showcased the hard work these parents had accomplished all year long. The cafeteria was decorated with beautiful handmade jewelry, stellar cakes, handmade clothing and curtains. The day’s event exuded pride not only of the successes achieved by these graduates but of the entire Washington Heights community.

Richard Buery's Daily News Op-Ed on Mayor Bloomberg's Speech on "Stop & Frisk"

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The following is an excerpt from Why stop-and-frisk should be ended, not mended, an Op-Ed piece by Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children's Aid Society, published on the Daily News website.

"Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s speech at a Brownsville church on Sunday was a much-needed demonstration of leadership as community concern about his stop-and-frisk policy grows. We should all applaud the mayor’s desire to reduce violent crime, which disproportionately impacts communities of color, especially the young black and Latino men who are overwhelmingly its victims.

The mayor insists stop-and-frisk is responsible for New York City’s successful reduction in violent crime, including murder, and in reducing the number of guns on the street. His critics point out that there is no causal evidence that this is true. This speech was the mayor’s first attempt to address the true impact of stop-and-frisk. It was sorely welcome, and overdue.

The policy takes a toll well beyond inconvenience, anger and hurt feelings. It goes to the very nature of citizenship — the right to walk freely in your neighborhood and not be treated as a criminal, day after day, week after week, and year after year. It is a flawed — if well-intentioned — approach to addressing public safety."

Continue reading on nydailynews.com

Over 60,000 Signatures and Letters Call On Mayor to Restore Cuts to After School and Child Care

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On June 13th, 300 parents, children, providers and advocates from the Campaign for Children gathered on the steps of City Hall to deliver more than 60,000 petition signatures and letters to the Mayor urging him and the City Council to restore $170 million to OST and Child Care. The signatures and letters were collected from all around the city from students, parents and staff. Children’s Aid alone was able to collect 10,509 signatures and letters!

The group was joined by many City Council Members which included: Leticia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Charles Barron, Robert Jackson, Jimmy Van Bramer, Matheiu Eugene, David Greenfield and Diana Reyna. The Council Members echoed the groups sentiment that child care and after-school programs must be saved. Representatives from the Public Advocates’ office also joined the group, urging the Mayor to restore these cuts and collected more than 2,800 signatures to add to the cause.

The letter delivery is part of a month long vigil held at City Hall by children and parents at risk of losing child care and after-school programs. If these cuts are not restored in the final budget due June 30th, thousands of New York City families will lose access to programs that keep children safe and learning while parents are at work. The City of New York cannot afford to cut child care or after-school programs for even a single child. We urge the Mayor and City Council to stand up for children and working families, and fully fund child care and after-school in the final budget. Find out what you can do to make your voice heard at www.childrensaidsociety.org/take-action and http://www.campaignforchildrennyc.com