The Children's Aid Blog

Citizenship Application Assistance Workshop in Washington Heights

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The Children’s Aid Society strives to provide children and families with the supports they need to realize their “American dream”. For many of the immigrant parents in the communities served by CAS, becoming an American citizen can seem daunting because of a language barrier or the lack in assistance to fully understand the process and its requirements. CAS has joined the ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! Campaign to engage community members who are eligible permanent residents and educate them on how to apply. With over 400 partnering organizations, the campaign has motivated over 1 million individuals to obtain their U.S. citizenship.

An upcoming Citizenship Application Assistance Workshop, to be held on Saturday, February 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Intermediate School 52 in Washington Heights, will provide free of charge assistance with the naturalization application process including a review by an immigration attorney, passport photos and citizenship study materials.

The assistance workshop is by appointment only. Only the first 75 participants will be assisted. To register and for more information, please call 1-888-839-8682 or visit www.YAESHORA.info.

Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, Offers Suggestions to President Obama

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Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, offered his suggestions to President Obama as part of blackenterprise.com's feature 11 Black Presidents Under 50 & Their Presidents’ Day Advice for Obama.

“I would recommend a strategy that eradicates the educational achievement gap between rich and poor. First, we need to develop a national indicator to measure the educational, economic, physical and social-emotional health of our children—a Children’s Index. Next, I would urge President Obama to propose a massive expansion of head start programs."

Read Richard Buery's complete comments here.

Lift Every Voice... Public Speaking Event Honoring Black History Month

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In honor of Black History Month the Children's Aid Society is seeking young men of color to participate in Lift Every Voice, a public speaking event hosted by the African American Male Initiative, a CAS program.The event, geared to encourage a deeper appreciation of African American history and culture, will take place on Saturday, February 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the New York Mission Society’s Minisink Townhouse. Lift Every Voice is an opportunity to showcase the youth’s positive academic accomplishments and connection to their heritage.

All participants must dress professionally and their speech topics must be related to the theme of Black History Month, “Is Black History Month still relevant and necessary?” or “Are Our Youth Preparing Themselves to Be Contributors to Black History?” The youth will be judged by a panel of educators, community leaders and representatives of The Children’s Aid Society.

The African American Male Initiative-Steps to Success(AAMI)is a program created by The Children’s Aid Society in response to the educational and social challenges that disproportionately confronted young men of color. AAMI seeks to provide comprehensive services and support to program participants and their families by encouraging academic, social and leadership development of young men.

To register for this public speaking event or to learn more about The African American Male Initiative please contact Ms. Reena Mahabir, Program Assistant at reenam@childrensaidsociety.org.

Children’s Aid Youth Go to Albany for Youth Action Day

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On Monday, January 30th, a group of students from The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center and Lasting Investments in Neighborhood Connections (LINC) program joined the Campaign to Save Summer Jobs in Albany to encourage legislators to continue to increase funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). In this year’s proposed state budget, $25 million dollars have been allocated for SYEP, but youth and advocates are asking for more funding to restore many of the slots that were cut last fiscal year.

The Campaign to Save Summer Jobs had over 200 youth rally in the Legislative Office Building to ask for support for increased funding. At the rally, Senator Bill Perkins and Senator Adriano Espaillat, both of whom represent Children’s Aid Society sites, expressed their continued support of SYEP and other youth programs. In the afternoon, the youth from different agencies from across the city met with Senators and Assembly Members alike. They then joined Assembly Member Marcos A. Crespo, representative of the Soundview and Huntspoint area in the Bronx, in the Assembly chamber.

The youth voiced their sentiments on the importance of summer jobs. They all echoed the issue of safety and staying out of trouble as one of the leading reasons that they are advocating for more SYEP funding. Not only do summer jobs offer a safe haven to many city youth but they also offer a learning experience that they may not otherwise have in their communities. Responsibility, maturity and money management are some of the skills that the youth believe a summer job teaches them.

We hope that more funding is allocated for SYEP and that city youth continue to be given opportunities that this program offers them. Last year, Children’s Aid supported 560 youth through SYEP.

New Children’s Aid Society Charter School to Give Neediest Kids in the South Bronx an Advantage Through Lottery

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The Children’s Aid Society has announced a first-of-its-kind lottery system for its new charter school in the South Bronx’s Morrisania neighborhood. The lottery system for Children’s Aid College Prep is open to all students but will emphasize particularly on needy students. “We have always focused our resources on the most vulnerable young people in New York City and our first charter school will be no different,” said The Children’s Aid Society President and CEO Richard Buery. “All children will be a part of our new school, but those who have been involved in the child welfare system or who have other challenges that can dampen academic success should be given an additional boost.”

Poverty levels in Morrisania—a community where Children’s Aid has established service hubs and community schools serving more than 10,000 people over the last 10 years—exceed those of other New York City neighborhoods. Currently 57% of children in Morrisania are growing up in poverty and only 27% perform at or above grade level on standard reading tests, more than 15% lower than the City average.

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

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

For example, a student from a single-parent household and has been involved in the child welfare system will receive three entries, or chances to get in.

The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School will serve 120 students in Kindergarten and 1st grade and eventually approximately 300 students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The Children’s Aid Society’s deep roots in the South Bronx and its multi-site service centers in the surrounding community will enable the proposed school to provide effective youth development practices, comprehensive health care and a commitment to empowering parents, foster parents and other care-giving adults to become full partners in their children’s success.

The Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School is accepting applications for K-1 through April 2, 2012 and the lottery will be held on April 9th at 11am at The Next Generation Center at 1522 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. The school will open in Fall 2012. To apply, visit www.childrensaidcollegeprep.org/enroll, or complete the charter school common application. For more information, visit our website: www.childrenaidcollegeprep.org.

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: Love at First Sight, and Through Years of Struggles That Followed

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Monique and Angel Cartegna make ends meet after job loss and injury.

Monique and Angel Cartagena met on a snowy night in 1991. She, then 16, was walking down 179th Street in the Bronx when she noticed what appeared to be a man breaking into a Toyota Celica. He, then 19, was jimmying the driver’s side window with a coat hanger, having locked his keys inside. The time was 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 31.

“So this girl with beautiful eyes walks up,” Mr. Cartagena recalled, staring at his wife the other day across their dining room table. “And I was like, ‘This is my car! You want to help me?’ ”

Ms. Cartagena covered her face with her hands. “Being the naïve 16-year-old that I was,” she said, “I helped him.” She pried open the window until he retrieved the keys. “And it was — what do you want to call it? Love at first sight?” she added.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: A New Charter School, A New Approach to Escaping Poverty

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"The lessons we have learned from community schools demonstrate that addressing the growing achievement gap requires a holistic and legitimate effort to refocus the system on children and their needs."

 Despite the hard work of the thousands of dedicated and talented professionals that fill public schools, systemic problems contribute to a growing achievement gap that often leaves minority and low-income families at a serious disadvantage. While there is no one solution, community schools that provide high-quality academic instruction and offer comprehensive social, health, recreational and family services can help level the playing field between rich and poor.

A study published in 2009 shows that the New York State black-white achievement score gap for public school students in fourth grade is 26 points in both mathematics and reading. The 2009 Hispanic-white gap for New York fourth graders is only slightly better at 17 points for mathematics and 25 points for reading.

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New York Times Neediest Cases Story: Trying to Give Her Family a Better Life Than Hers

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Enid Cruz make ends meet to keep a roof over her family's head.

Enid Cruz was fed up. She was tired of seeing people fight and sell drugs outside her building in East Harlem. She wanted a fresh start not only for herself, but also for her youngest daughter and her granddaughter. Though she and her children had grown up in the neighborhood, she said, it was time to go.

“I wanted to try something new, and I thought I could afford it,” she said.

Reared by a single mother who had epileptic seizures, Ms. Cruz, 47, had climbed her way out of an impoverished childhood of public assistance and food stamps that never went very far, she said.

“There were times when we would have our lights turned off or there was no money to get school clothes,” she recalled.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

Chinese Delegation Visits P.S. 152 Early Head Start

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It is the year of the Dragon and along with the rest of New York City; the Children’s Aid Society’s Early Childhood programs is celebrating with fun and educational activities to teach little ones about the Chinese New Year. Earlier this month the Early Head Start Program at P.S. 152, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, hosted a visit for a group of Chinese government officials. 

The 18 member delegation from the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China (NPFPC) came with the purpose of learning from The Children’s Aid Society’s Early Head Start program which serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers, ages 0-3, in a home visiting model. 

CAS staff from Early Childhood, Community Schools and the National Center for Community Schools were in attendance to meet with the delegates from China who were especially interested in learning about ways Early Head Start screens infants and toddlers for special needs as well as how the program integrates and coordinates social services around prenatal care, health services and educational support. 

The group discussed the need for early intervention and shares the same beliefs as The Children’s Aid Society that early childhood education is important in fostering school readiness for children and families. 

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: Long After Southern Storm, Still Looking for New Home

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Shelly Berry enter her children in schools and find work for herself.

The first few days of Shelly Berry’s life in New York City were spent in the hallway of an apartment building in the Bronx. That was where she and her two daughters slept for three nights, huddled together on the grimy floor of a stairwell.

Their predicament began a month before, in April 2011, when a series of devastating tornadoes struck Raleigh, N.C., where Ms. Berry and her daughters lived. The tornadoes left several people dead, injured scores of others and demolished many buildings, including Ms. Berry’s apartment. But she and her daughters, Stephanie, 11, and Kaylia, 13, had managed to pack some clothes into three bags and had taken shelter with a neighbor.

Ms. Berry, who had been laid off as a receptionist, was now out of work, low on money and homeless; she had to figure out her next move quickly.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.