The Children's Aid Blog

Halloween with Victor Cruz

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On Saturday, October 25, more than a dozen students from our Hope Leadership Academy in Manhattan were invited to attend the Victor Cruz Foundation's "Halloweenland," an interactive Halloween experience focused on sports and science education. They had an opportunity to play catch with  Victor Cruz and his New York Giants teammates Mark Herzlich and Julian Talley,  shoot hoops with New York Knick J.R. Smith, and test their goal-scoring skills at soccer and New York Rangers hockey stations. They also learned about the science of sound with Sean Combs's Revolt TV. The kids also had a chance to try their hand at spooky movie makeup and pumpkin painting, and to participate in a costume contest.

Thank you to Time Warner Cable and the Victor Cruz Foundation for making this event possible for our kids.

A Delivery of Costumes to the Dunlevy Milbank Center

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Costume company BuyCostumes recently arrived in New York after traveling all the way from Wisconsin as part of a charity tour. Along the way they visited various organizations and groups, donating costumes to populations in need to ensure that everyone enjoys Halloween in style.    

As part of their final stop in New York, they visited Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center yesterday. A large group of BuyCostumes staff members dressed up and handed over boxes of costumes to nearly 50 youth from our Early Childhood programs. After accepting the gifts, some of the kids had the opportunity to try the costumes on, excited over their new trick-or-treat attire.

Thank you to BuyCostumes for making Halloween a memorable and fun-filled event for our youth!

Happy Halloween!

From the Associates Council: Roman Holiday

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In the busy season of New York holiday parties, friends, and food, the Associates Council of The Children’s Aid Society will host its 18th Annual Fall Fundraiser, Roman Holiday (yes, Audrey Hepburn style!), on Wednesday, November 12, from 7-10 p.m. at Bread & Tulips, a charming Italian restaurant in Gramercy on Park Avenue South.  Guests will enjoy tasty Italian fare and a selected, complimentary bar sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, with beer from Southampton and Weihenstephan breweries, and wine from Tiziano. Proceeds from the fall event will benefit The Children’s Aid Society’s foster care program.

Recently, the Associates Council had the privilege to hear Michael Wagner, the director of permanency at Children’s Aid, speak about the variety of services within the foster care program, and how they affect the thousands of children who go through the system each year.  Our support will not only strengthen these programs financially, but it also will increase awareness about the importance and reach of the Children’s Aid foster care program. At this time of year as we give thanks, we remember the children and families in need. We hope you can join us to support this necessary program—every dollar does make a difference!

For more information and tickets, please visit: Hope to see you there!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Part II

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As Domestic Violence Awareness Month continues, we would like to remind you of the ways in which the young people we work with are affected by domestic violence. The statistics we presented in our last posting demonstrated the wide-reaching impact of domestic violence. These next facts focus on teens:

  • 1 in 10 teenagers in New York City schools reports experiencing physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship within the past year
  • 1 in 3 teens reports experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—almost triple the national average

We all know adolescence can be a difficult time, and we recognize the importance of supporting young people as they work through this stage of development. As young people push boundaries, separate from caregivers, and establish independent identities, these developmental tasks can create additional risk factors for experiencing intimate partner violence. We also know that adolescence covers a wide age range, and it is important to note the research suggesting that tweens (11-14 years old) are not only dating but are also experiencing abuse by dating partners.

So what can we all do to help?

  1. Identify when a teen is experiencing dating violence. Use our screening tool to guide your conversation with the young person. Or better yet, contact the Family Wellness Program for assistance in incorporating regular screening into your work with all teens.
  2. Know the warning signs. Teens who are being abused by a dating partner or witnessing domestic violence at home will often exhibit behavioral changes. If you notice a teen has suddenly become withdrawn or isolated, is struggling with school, or is acting out in aggressive ways, take a moment to check in with that young person about the relationships in her/his life.
  3. Start the conversation. Teens are receiving all sorts of messages about what dating and relationships should look like. Be proactive and start a conversation about healthy dating and positive relationship values. Or contact Julia Kirchhoff ( to schedule a workshop with our Teens Against Relationship Abuse (TARA) initiative.
  4. Be ready with resources.
    1. Family Wellness Program, TARA initiative (212) 503-6842
    2. Day One,, (212) 566-8120
    3. Break the Cycle,
    4. Teen Dating Violence Hotline, (866) 331-9474,

Lights on…Across the City

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Yesterday, hundreds of children and their parents at 11 of our sites across the city gathered to send a public message about the the importance of after-school programming in their life. From marches to rallies to information sessions, these grassroots activists wanted our elected leaders to know that supporting after-school activities helps children stay safe and succeed in school.

Elected officials showed their support of by attending some of the events. Senator Gustavo Rivera encouraged C.S. 211 students to continue to let their voices be heard. Similarly, U.S. Congressman Rangel greeted students at the Dunlevy Milbank Center and encouraged them to continue to work hard and succeed in school.

Thousands of children benefit from Children’s Aid after-school programs that feature athletics and physical activity, homework help, cultural enrichment, and many other programs.

This year, New York City redoubled its commitment to ensuring that young people have engaging after-school programming when Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the first 45 of a promised 100 new community schools. This initiative will bring vital programming to youth in the hours after school as well as deliver key health and social-emotional services that help children from lower-income families succeed academically.

Lights On Afterschool, an Afterschool Alliance event now in its 15th year, is a nationwide rally designed to highlight the importance of after-school programs in keeping children safe, educated, and meaningfully engaged. One million Americans are estimated to be participating in over 7,500 events across the country.

Next Generation Center Unveils New Mural

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This summer youth from our Next Generation Center in the Bronx had the opportunity to participate in Project Rebuild. Facilitated by a $10,000 grant from the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, Project Rebuild is part of Kevin Durant's Strong and Kind  movement.   Youth participated in various activities that included the planning and completion of a mural led by muralist Darwin Bharath. They also learned the essentials of good nutrition by attending cooking classes and trips to the farmer's market. Their cooking skills were put to use by preparing and distributing meals to their South Bronx community.

Thank you to our youth, who embodied the spirit of the Strong and Kind movement by showing that a little kindness helps to make a community stronger.

Hundreds of Teens Attend College Fair

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The Health and Wellness Division—through the Well-Informed on Sexuality Education, Too (WISE-2) program—hosted its first College Fair at the Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts/Fredrick Douglas Academy II Campus on October 8. More than 700 students had the opportunity to speak with 22 college representatives and 12 career schools and  college readiness organizations. Youth could choose any two of several after-school workshops on topics such as SAT/ACT prep, facilitated by the Princeton Review; college essay writing, by Project Reach;  financial aid, run by the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation; personal budgeting, especially during college, facilitated by the CAS HOPE Leadership Academy Peer Educators; and managing college stress, by Project Reach. 

The WISE-2 Program is part of the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (CAPP) Program that provides age appropriate, evidence–based pregnancy, STI, and HIV prevention programming in schools and after school settings in Harlem and the South Bronx.  An important aspect of the program is adolescent development including preparing adolescents for college. Youth who have college and career aspirations are more likely to make responsible decisions regarding their sexual health.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

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The Family Wellness Program would like to invite all CAS programs and staff to join us in recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Domestic violence is a complex problem that affects many of the families we work with at Children’s Aid, and it can have long-lasting effects on children’s ability to succeed and thrive.  Domestic violence—also known as relationship abuse or intimate partner abuse—is a pattern in an intimate relationship in which one person attempts to gain and maintain power and control over the other person using coercion, entitlement, physical, emotional, sexual, or financial tactics.  Domestic violence affects children and families in innumerable ways and with concerning frequency.  Some examples:

  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, and 1 in 3 teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.
  • In 2013, New York City police responded to an average of 765 domestic violence incidents per day; the city’s Domestic Violence Hotline answered  more than 270  calls per day. But most incidents of domestic violence still go unreported.
  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
  • There was a history of domestic violence in the families of  86% of children killed last year, according to the child fatality review.
  • In New York City, 25% of homeless heads of household became homeless due to domestic violence.

In order for the children and teens we work with to succeed, we must support them and their families in finding long-term safety, stability, and healing.  Our in-house DV experts at the Family Wellness Program are always available as a resource for CAS staff. Please feel free to call us at 212-503-6842 or email for information or a case consultation, or to schedule training for your program staff on identifying and responding to domestic violence in families you work with.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we will be posting ideas and suggestions on Charlie of small but important things you can do as programs and individuals to be part of the change, creating communities where violence and abuse are not accepted or excused.
Meanwhile, see attached flyer and Save the Date for "Shine the Light in Harlem," a walk and speak-out to raise awareness about domestic violence, on October 27 at 5:30 p.m.

CAS-Carrera Featured as Cutting-Edge Program

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Husband-and-wife team Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, and Sheryl WuDunn have written a powerful new book, A Path Appears, about the individuals and institutions making the world a better place through local and global initiatives. We’re incredibly excited that the authors have included Dr. Michael Carrera and the Children’s Aid Society’s-Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program among the innovators who are using research, evidence-based strategies, and brilliant ideas to spread opportunity around the world. Here’s a short excerpt:


The Carrera curriculum for middle schools and high schools is one of the most impressive efforts to deal with [teenage pregnancy] issues. Devised with the help of the Children’s Aid Society in New York, it aims to arm disadvantaged kids not just with condoms but with skills and self-confidence as well. The program runs from sixth grade through senior year of high school, and it includes discussions of health and sexuality and also of jobs, bank accounts, and financial literacy. The students get help opening their own savings accounts, and they get medical and dental care, vision care, and eyeglasses—even braces if they need them. All this encourages kids to sign up, and in socially conservative communities it reduces the sensitivity of the program as “sex education.” It’s an elective that students sign up for, and their parents have to consent because of the discussions about sexuality.

Dr. Carrera argues strongly that single-intervention approaches don’t work very well, because one of the underlying reasons for pregnancy is fatalism and hopelessness. As he sees it, pregnancy prevention isn’t just a technical matter of preventing eggs from meeting sperm; it’s also about giving kids hope an determination so that they have a stake in the future and positively want to avoid pregnancy. “Wisdom in our work begins,” Dr. Carrera says, “when we give up giving up.”

The Knicks Care About Children’s Aid

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This year, the NBA All-Star Game is coming to Madison Square Garden. To celebrate, the New York Knicks, the New York Liberty, and the NBA are working all over the world’s best basketball city to support the next generation of hoopsters. Yesterday, they landed at the Milbank Center in Harlem.

The headliners of the event were New York Knicks past and present. From the current squad, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Cleanthony Early, and Shane Larkin helped rev up nearly two hundred children. Cal Ramsey had the honor of serving double duty—a former Knick who has long served as a trustee on the Children’s Aid board. Finally, the children were honored to meet two Hall of Fame players: Earl “the Pearl” Monroe and Bernard King.

This illustrious group, joined by Children’s Aid staff—including Drema Brown, Vito Interrante, and Casper Lassiter—unveiled a newly resurfaced outdoor basketball court. Dozens of employees from Madison Square Garden and the Knicks had been working on the court surrounding bleachers the entire day, with the paint drying just in time. Many thanks to the Garden of Dreams and Chase Bank for funding that project.

The day was part of the NBA Cares program, and it’s clear that it’s more than just about basketball. Every child left Milbank with a brand-new backpack stuffed with school supplies—donated by the staff at Madison Square Garden as well as Knicks fans. There were a lot of smiles walking out of that gym.

Many thanks to Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks, the NBA, and everyone who made the day possible.