The Children's Aid Blog

Richard Buery Calls for Preservation of After-School and Child Care Programs on Manhattan Viewpoint Blog

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As part of ongoing advocacy efforts aimed at convincing city leaders to preserve funding for after-school and child care programs, Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, served as a guest writer on the Manhattan Viewpoint Blog. Mr. Buery's post, NYC Budget Cuts Damage Our Children, carefully reviews the numbers in terms of how many children and families will be effected. The stunning statistics include: "In Central Harlem, only 5.7% of eligible families will have access to early childhood education." An excerpt of the post is available below. Also, be sure to visit the Children's Aid Take Action Page to learn how you can tell Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials to save vital services for children!

NYC Budget Cuts Damage Our Children

On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced his $68.7 billion budget proposal, and for the fifth straight year, his budget slashes early childhood and after school programs.   

Nonsensical Cuts
 
With Wall Street tax revenues lower than predicted and our city still recovering from the economic downtown, I understand that the city has difficult choices to make. But decimating these critical programs for children is just the wrong choice to make.

From his Young Men's Initiative to improve outcomes for young people of color, to his plans to serve juveniles in supportive programs here in New York City rather than upstate juvenile jails, to the groundbreaking poverty-fighting initiatives of his Center for Economic Opportunity, the Mayor has demonstrated his sincere commitment to the poor and working-class children of New York City. And while I haven't agreed with every element of his education reform policies, he has bravely asked to be judged as the "education mayor." Our expectations of what a public education system can and should be expected to deliver for poor children have been changed forever.

That is why the mayor's proposed cuts to early childhood education and after-school programs make absolutely no sense. We all understand how important it is to keep kids engaged and on track beginning at a very early age...

Continue reading on the Manhattan Viewpoint Blog

11th Annual Children's Art Show

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Last week, the walls at the National Arts Club exquisitely displayed brightly colored and deeply moving art pieces from youth in Children’s Aid Society community schools and centers. Dozens of children, parents and staff attended the 11th Annual Children’s Art Show at the famous arts club in Gramercy Park on Thursday April 26th to celebrate their talents.

This year, the Art Show featured approximately150 pieces of art by children ages 3-18 from Children’s Aid fall and winter programs. There was something for everyone to enjoy! Delicately made tissue paper cherry blossoms done by 5 and 6 year olds of the Dunlevy Milbank Center to emotionally moving charcoal drawings by teens in the Artistic Noise program.

Overwhelming accolades were given to all the artists by the legendary Dianne Bernhard, President of The National Arts Club, Richard Buery, President and CEO and Dr. William Weisberg, Chief Operating Officer of The Children’s Aid Society. Along with the talent on the walls, all in attendance were treated to an energetic performance by the Children’s Aid Senior Chorus and a riveting original poetic reading by Kelisha Cyrus of The Hope Leadership Academy. Visit the 11th Annual Children’s Art Show photo gallery to view images of this special event and art work.

Latest Update on the Campaign to Save After-School and Child Care for 47,000 Children

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The campaign continues to convince city leaders to preserve funding for 47,000 after-school and child care slots. The Huffington Post provides a detailed look at the situation, including comments from Katherine Eckstein, Children's Aid Director of Public Policy:

The mayor is set to release his executive budget Thursday, and the city's child-care advocates said they haven't heard any rumblings indicating a last-minute restoration of funds. "We're very concerned, and frankly outraged," said Katherine Eckstein, the director of public policy for the Children's Aid Society. "It's exactly the opposite of the direction the city should be going in." - from Bloomberg Budget Brawl: Children's Advocates Scramble To Save New York's State-Of-The-Art After-School System On Eve Of Massive Cuts

WNYC's coverage of the budget situation includes the following:

City Council Finance Committee Chairman Domenic Recchia told WNYC he hopes the mayor will back off plans announced earlier this year to cut day care and after school programs for close to 50,000 children. He said his phone is ringing off the hook.

It is important to keep those phones ringing and the messages pouring in to the inboxes of our elected officials. Find out what you can do to preserve these vital programs by visiting the Children's Aid Take Action page. Make your voice heard!

TODAY is Call In Day - Tell City Leaders to Save Child Care and After-School Programs

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The Mayor's proposed budget cuts will eliminate child care and after-school programs for 47,000 children. On Monday, April 30th, YOU can help by calling city leaders and telling them to save these vital programs. Here's how:

What You Can Do

On Monday, April 30th, call (888) 279-3491 and use the following script as a guide (please be polite):

Hi, my name's ________. I'm calling to urge you to save child care and after-school programs. With the newest budgets cuts, more than 47,000 NYC children are at risk of losing the educational opportunities that pave the way for success. Families that rely on subsidized child care and after-school work hard and play by the rules. Without these programs, many working family members will be unable to keep their jobs and provide for their households, or will be forced to make potentially unsafe arrangements for their children. It is morally wrong to balance the city budget on the backs of children and hard-working families.  We’re counting on YOU to restore the funding to save child care and after-school programs. Thank you.

The phone number listed above wil connect you directly to city leaders in charge of the budet. If no one answers, leave a voice mail.

Spanish Instructions:

Llame al (888)-279-3491 para informales a nuestros líderes municipales que el cuidado infantil y los programas después de la escuela deben ser protegidos!

Use este guía para su llamada (por favor sea cortés):
Hola, me llamo ________. Le llamo para pedirle que proteja los programas de cuidado infantil y después de la escuela. Con los recortes presupuestarios más recientes, más de 47,000 niños de la ciudad de Nueva York están en riesgo de perder las oportunidades educativas que los ayudara obtener el éxito. Las familias, que dependen del cuidado infantil y de los programas después de la escuela, son trabajadoras y respetan las reglas de esta ciudad. Sin estos programas, muchas familias no podrán conservar sus trabajos y mantener sus hogares, o se verán obligados a hacer planes que posiblemente sean inseguros para sus hijos. Es moralmente indebido balancear el presupuesto municipal a cuestas de los niños y las familias trabajadoras. Estamos contando con USTED para restaurar los fondos de los programas de cuidado infantil y los programas después del día escolar. Gracias.

Las llamadas al número telefónico mencionado anteriormente serán automáticamente conectadas a uno de los líderes municipales a cargo del presupuesto de la cuidad. Si nadie contesta, por favor de dejar un mensaje de voz.  A pesar del mensaje que reciba de la oficina, por favor tenga la seguridad de que estas son las personas claves en tomar decisiones presupuestarias.

For complete instructions, download the following flyers:

Download Call In Day Flyer (English)

Download Call In Day Flyer (Spanish)

Other Ways You Can Take Action

Send an EMAIL to the Mayor and other elected officials by clicking here or visiting www.CampaignforChildrenNYC.com and clicking the TAKE ACTION button on the right.

OR

You or your child can write a LETTER to the Mayor – telling him why child care and after-school are so important to you and your family – Address letters to:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

*For more information visit: www.CampaignforChildrenNYC.com Facebook: Campaign for Children // Twitter: @ChildrenNYC #Campaign4Children

Encourage Others to Write on Social Media

TWEET: I sent a letter to @MikeBloomberg to say, save our child care and after-school! Send yours: http://bit.ly/ytoaJO #Campaign4Children

FACEBOOK: I sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg to say, save our child care and after-school! You can, too. Follow the link to TAKE ACTION with Campaign for Children. http://bit.ly/ytoaJO

Latest News

From the New York Daily News:

On Wednesday, April 18th, councilwoman Annabel Palma (D-Bronx) met with advocates and parents at The Children's Aid Society's Bronx Family Center to discuss Mayor Bloomberg's proposed cuts to childcare services. Read the complete recap at the link below:

Concerned Bronx pols and advocates visit borough childcare center, one of several threatened by city cuts

Richard Buery Addresses Proposed Cuts on 1010Wins

Click the play button below to listen to Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, discuss the potentailly devastating impact of the Mayor's proposed cuts to childcare and after-school programs.

Children's Aid Dads Pledge Their Best at Daddy Pick Up Day

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“Let it be known on this day that my job as a Dad is never done.” This is how dozens of fathers ended their pledge on Wednesday, April 25th at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. The center held its inaugural Daddy Pick-Up Day in which fathers picked up their children promptly as 5:45 p.m. Dads, step-dads, grandfathers, children, friends and staff collectively marched around the neighborhood chanting “5:45, my daddy picked me up!”

The center put together this creative and engaging event as part of “Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention” month to raise awareness about the positive impact fathers and/or father figures have on the lives of their children. The large group took up almost the length of one block but their voices could be heard for more and their smiles gave the sun a run for its money. I am sure that all dads out and about that afternoon were inspired by the unity displayed by the Milbank families. View the photogallery here.

Daddy Pick Up Day Pledge

We come here today as men to help our children become productive citizens in our society.

We will do this by:

Showing respect for the mother of our children.

Spending quality time with our children in and outside of the home.

Reading to our children to help achieve their learning goals.

Conducting ourselves in a positive manner in the eyes of our children.

Providing a safe and secure upbringing full of affection.

Teaching life lessons to help our children make proper choices.

Let it be known on this day that my job as a Dad is never done.

Fatherhood is forever!!

Association of Southeast Asian Nations Visits Salomé Ureña Campus

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Twenty six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children visited the CAS Salomé Ureña Campus on April 24. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton invited the group to visit the United States as part of U.S. support for ASEAN and its developing institutions. Before visiting CAS the group was meeting with officials, NGOs and others in Washington, DC. The Department of State recommended the visit to the CAS community schools as a way to see innovative practices around school, family and community partnerships in action.

The group included representatives from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam. They toured the school and had a panel discussion with Alma Whitford, June Barnett, Margaret Caspe, Migdalia Cortes-Torres, Roy Laird and Alirio Guerrero; Hersilia Méndez moderated the panel. According to Kate Longhurst, from the Office of Multilateral Affairs, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State, the representatives loved visiting the school and in a wrap-up session yesterday afternoon, many of them counted it as a highlight of their entire visit to the United States. They were very impressed with the depth and breadth of services provided, and that services are integrated and readily available at school. They were particularly interested in CAS' focus on the family, including continuing education for parents and early childhood programs. The group wants to continue a dialogue with CAS to see how elements of the approach can be implemented in their own countries.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: E.R. Visits: A Costly Band-Aid for Troubled Students

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"The Department of Education and the Department of Health must allocate more money for these mental health services in our schools."

Last week, the New York Times profiled Gabriel, a young boy who has been unnecessarily sent to the emergency room for psychiatric evaluations on multiple occasions due to behavioral outbursts in school. With the right resources, these outbursts could and should have been handled in Gabriel's school. Every year, thousands of children are sent to the ER unnecessarily, when instead they could be cared for and learning in school.

As many parents and students can attest, disruptive behaviors are a distraction to the entire class. The lesson is interrupted; students and teachers become unfocused and tense. Faced with a shortage of resources, educators are increasingly calling 911 when children act out, resulting not only in costly emergency room visits, but a failure to treat the underlying behavioral disorder.

And it's the wrong response.

Less than 3 percent of students sent to the emergency room are admitted into a hospital. Most are sent home and told to return to school the next day. Instead of receiving any sort of treatment for the root problem, the student misses a day of school. Often, parents are required to miss work, losing income and imperiling their jobs.

Continue Reading on The Huffington Post

Access a complete list of Richard Buery's Huffington Post columns

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter (@RichardBueryCAS)

Children's Aid Honors Healthy Cooking Volunteers

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For the past week, The Children’s Aid Society has been honoring volunteers who selflessly give of their time and talents to the children and families throughout our programs. Last but definitely not least, The Food & Nutrition department would like to honor five dedicated volunteers who work with Early Childhood participants in the Go!Kids cooking programs. This hands-on cooking and nutrition curriculum teaches children basic cooking skills to prepare nutritious meals. The following talented and dedicated volunteers not only help these children learn lifetime skills but they also serve as models of the benefits of healthy eating.

Lauren Finley

Her training in teaching coupled with her experience as a pastry Chef allows Lauren to transform every classroom at the Bronx Early Childhood Center into a magical Go!Kids Cook space, where crafts, books and foods come together. She is diligent and passionate; she connects with our young students with ease and commands the classroom with finesse.  Here the kids are learning about the attributes of a humble apple before turning it into a delicious applesauce.

 

Daniele Duek

Her smile immediately makes the kids feel comfortable when she teaches at Taft Daycare Center or at the East Harlem Center.  She easily switches between English, Spanish and Portuguese, making children feel at ease while they expand their vocabulary.  She is extremely skillful in encouraging the kids to use all their senses as they explore, cook and taste new foods. And her explanations of the ingredients makes fruits and vegetables come alive right before their eyes!

 

Jenny Ecclestone

When it comes to teaching children the art of cooking, Jenny is a pro! Her strong culinary background and unwavering passion for introducing kids to healthy foods is always apparent in the classroom at our East Harlem Center, where kids learn how to use “the claw” to safely cut their veggies and fruits, and how healthy food can taste great and look beautiful. Her enthusiasm and warmth are wildly contagious—the kids are always super excited when they know Chef Jenny is coming to teach! Here they are cutting a rainbow of fruits for Granola Parfaits.

 

Linda Rosenblatt

Chef Linda is brimming with energy and very well loved! When she walks into the Frederick Douglass Center, kids immediately surround to her to ask “What are we cooking today?” She knows how to channel her spunk and the kids’ excitement into an orderly classroom environment where all the students get a rich hands-on cooking experience—measuring, cutting, mixing and creating a dish together. And she always gives each child her full individual attention. Here she works with one young Chef on math skills as he counts the layers of yogurt, fruit and granola in his delicious Parfait.

 

Julie Sanderson

Julie’s charming personality, awesome sense of humor and flexibility make a great combination when she teaches cooking to the kids at our Dunlevy Milbank Daycare Center.  She is adept at capturing the kids’ overflowing enthusiasm and nurturing in them a real passion for cooking. Not to mention that they love her cool British accent! Here she is ready to start some guacamole action!

Volunteer Spotlight: Nathaniel Soria

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As we continue to honor our volunteers for National Volunteer Week, The Children’s Aid Society is shining a spotlight on Nathaniel Soria, an Executive Committee Member of the Associates Council.  Nate has volunteered in a variety of opportunities from overhauling the Associates Council image and marketing campaigns, designing a 4-paneled mural at the Dunlevy Milbank Center, to teaching an art class at The Hope Leadership Academy.  Nate is always willing and available to help out in whatever capacity we need him.  He is a valuable asset to our volunteer family!

Jennifer Gallivan, President of the Associates Council says:

“In this age of social media, constant e-mails, and constant electronic overload, the key to success is thoughtful, unique, and memorable marketing. Especially for a non-profit organization. The Associates Council has been in existence for 25+ years within Children’s Aid, and through its history the group has raised millions of dollars for Children’s Aid and certainly created awareness about its programs and advocacy issues. But, in my opinion, a consistent ‘AC brand’ didn’t exist until this year. Nate Soria, a stellar graphic designer and brilliant creator jumped on board the AC last fall and before we knew it he was brainstorming marketing plans & drafting up creative pieces, while at the same time creating murals up at Millbank and editing videos of volunteer events. Not even two months had passed before I asked Nate to consider joining our Executive Council as head of marketing for the AC and he didn’t even hesitate before accepting. His dedication, enthusiasm, flexibility, and endless energy have been so motivating and contagious. It’s really a pleasure to have him on the team!”  

Below, Nate shares his feelings on why he enjoys volunteering and what he has gained by working with the children at The Children’s Aid Society.

What motivated you to volunteer at Children’s Aid?

Two things: my faith and my art. Only a year ago I moved to NYC in the hopes to expand as an artist and partake in its diverse culture. Taking the leap from small-city Kansas City, MO to the Big Apple takes a lot of faith, so before I made the move I committed myself to meditating more. During my time of reflection I was led to reach out to an organization that helps children who might've not had the same opportunities I've been blessed with.

I wanted to give my art to Children's Aid Society, not just because it's my profession, but also because my art centers around children, tweens and teens. For 3 years I worked at a children's marketing agency, doing design and animation. Before that I was always drawing cartoons and comics. I also learned how to do caricatures at Six Flags and now do them at various parties and events. And currently I'm writing a fantasy novel that is geared towards tweens. I'm a kid at heart and do kid art very well, so they play an important part in my life. I'm a firm believer in the idea that what our children are taught today will determine how our society grows tomorrow. Kids are very important.

What keeps you coming?

Definitely the kids, and now that I've gotten to know more of Children’s Aid employees/volunteers, the people. There are so many different people from all sorts of backgrounds coming together for a great cause, each with brilliant hearts and minds, who are a blast to work with and learn from. It makes for a fun and warm-hearted environment. 

What do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience here?

I enjoy hearing and seeing how active The Children's Aid Society can be in helping children and their families grow. It's a love in action that is so influential to the young hearts and minds within the organization. The kids themselves can be much fun to be around, a lot of them so hopeful and willing to make a change in their own communities. That definitely moves me.

What have you learned or how have you personally been affected from your experience at Children’s Aid?

Being an artist it's easy to be confined to your work-bench, out of touch with the world around you. Children's Aid has been a vehicle for me to see another side of NYC that I didn't know was there. Here there is a whole world of families and children who are struggling with little to nothing to get by. The reality of it is it's not always pretty, it can even seem bleak at times. Even so, these neighborhoods and communities have rich cultures with people who have dreams, goals, and desires just like everyone else. It's amazing to see how one city can connect us all and how we try to help one another to excel towards our dreams.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer in the community?

Aside from my faith leading me to it, I also feel it's good to recognize that we are all a part of something great. Within our lives, in the places we live, the shops where we shop, the restaurants where we eat, there are connections to a great community. Without the train driver who is willing to wake up at 4 in the morning to take his shift, I couldn't get to work on time. We are all connected, especially in New York City, and I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to a city that has given me so much. We should all give back a little because we are all blessed to be here. 

Is there anyone that has inspired or mentored you along the way that has influenced your decision to volunteer?

Definitely my mother and father. My dad worked for the Federal Government, so we had to move a lot, but in each place we moved to the first thing my parents would do is connect and volunteer at a church. They would always reach out to the outcast and open our house to everyone, feeding them hardy meals made by my mom and becoming close friends with all sorts of people. Since I was a child they've helped me see the best in all people and recognize those who might need a little help.

Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly share about your volunteer experience at The Children’s Aid Society?  Please share with us!

Last Summer I was able to teach an art class at Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem. The main assignment we worked on was to create a one page comic in pen and ink. I tried to help them form their own comic style by showcasing a lot of diverse comic artists who I appreciated, especially highlighting Will Eisner's ability to capture things in NYC in a unique way. They quickly caught on and used those references to capture parts in their own lives, emotions, dreams and fantasies. They were so excited to tell their stories and the work was stunning!

Granted, working with any group of teens can be challenging. There were some struggles that we had to overcome. Even so, at the end of the summer course Hope did a ceremony for the teens, acknowledging their achievements. I was touched to hear some of the kid's speeches; how much they appreciated the program, how much hope they had now, and even how some of my own lessons gave them a new found understanding of the world. It made all of the challenges worth it. I still think of those students and certainly pray they keep working towards the goals they were so excited to illustrate. They affected me in a great way and I appreciate it. 

What are some of your hobbies?                      

Playing zombie video games, hiking around Prospect Park, drawing in my sketchbook people/places in Manhattan, DJing at hole-in-the-wall bars and enjoying a good sci-fi movie.

Featured Image: Nathaniel Soria (standing on the ladder on the left) designed this four paneled mural depicting the different seasons for the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem.

Hundreds Rally This Week to Fight for Child Care Programs

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The Children’s Aid Society is hard at work this week advocating against the Mayor’s proposed budget cuts – which slash 47,000 after-school and child care slots for New York City children. Campaign for Children, of which Children’s Aid is a lead organization, spoke out at two events. Beginning at City Hall on Tuesday, April 17th hundreds of children, parents and providers rallied together to send one single message to Mayor Bloomberg: slashing much needed programs would devastate thousands of children and threaten the livelihood of many struggling families.

Supporting the event were councilmembers Gale A. Brewer, Margaret Chin, Leroy Comrie, Lewis A. Fidler, Robert Jackson, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, James Vacca, Jimmy Van Bramer, Albert Vann, Melissa Mark Viverito, Jumaane D. Williams, Ruben Wills, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer.

In addition, Councilmember Anabel Palma, Bronx Borough President’s Office representative Monica Major and several parents showed their support at the Children’s Aid Bronx Family Center press event on Wednesday, April 18th. “Every day my daughter gets up excited to go to school” said Jenay Davis, a parent whose child attends the Bronx Family Center Early Childhood program. “So I hope and pray that we keep these programs that we really need – that working parents really, really need.”

Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society also spoke to the crowd in the Bronx. “Every parent knows how expensive it is to find quality child care in NYC. This is not a luxury; this is a critical resource for families.”

Thanks to the participation of so many elected officials and advocates, both events were a big success.

But, the fight is not over. Take Action now and join The Children’s Aid Society and the Campaign for Children to help save after-school and child care programs.