The Children's Aid Blog

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.

USA Basketball Tour Visits Milbank

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Representatives from USA Basketball came to New York on Tuesday, August 19 as part of their multi-city tour leading up to the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Trainers from the Men’s and Women’s teams joined 150 summer campers, ranging in age from six to 14, at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in east Harlem. Two 90-minute training session offered campers the opportunity to work with our nation’s top trainers on their basketball fundamentals. This unique experience was just part one of the many sports activities offered during summer camp at the Milbank Center.

AAMI: Seeing and Helping the World, Part 2

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The boys from the African American Male Initiative returned home this past weekend after an amazing trip. Last week, we were treated to a blog post from Malachi Gayle.  Before leaving the island, Mark Jackson, an AAMI participant since the third grade and now a rising sophomore at Cardinal Hayes High School, gave us his thoughts:

"Anxious" is the one word that describes how I felt before our trip to Haiti. Would our hosts accept me? Would I like the food? Would I adapt to my new environment? These are some of the question and anxieties I had before we left. But after three days, I am learning that my anxieties were not alid.

The morning of departure, my beautiful mother was so stressed about me leaving, and I was just as stressed as my mom. When I touched down in Haiti, all my anxieties flew out the window. There was something in the air that immediately made me feel comfortable.

Our host, Dr. Holson, who practiced medicine in Harlem before starting his project in Haiti with young boys, welcomed us into his beautiful home. We hung out with his boys, played ball together, talked together, sang together, and even got too close for comfort in a Tap-tap, which is basically a Haitian cab.

My highlight on the trip so far was our trip to the Iron Market , which has existed in Port-Au-Prince since 1889. We were bombarded by the merchants at the market. We haggled with them, trying to get the best prices for items we wanted.

I am looking forward to all that this trip has to offer and know we will continue to have a ball.

Dancing the Summer Away

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Last night at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture in the Bronx, middle school students from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the city took to the stage for AileyCamp New York’s final performance, Destiny.

Approximately 100 campers have been working hard for six weeks at The Children’s Aid Society/AileyCamp New York. Attendance is free, and children come from a number of Children’s Aid sites in its four primary service areas: Washington Heights, Harlem/East Harlem, the Bronx, and northern Staten Island. Last night’s performance showcased the campers’ skills with specially choreographed dances in ballet, jazz, modern, and West African styles. A highlight of the event was a special performance inspired by Alvin Ailey's Memoria. The event was made possible by the event sponsor Bloomberg, and the support of the New York State Education Department, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and an anonymous donor. And, of course, the talented children who worked so hard all summer long.

AAMI: Seeing and Helping the World, Part I

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After months of preparation, about a dozen members of the African American Male Initiative finally boarded a plane this past weekend to begin the Harlem to Haiti Cultural Exchange Experience, accompanied by program director Clifton Watson. Their mission is two-fold. First, they are spending time working, helping restore properties that remain damaged years after the tragic earthquake. They are working for the Ageno Foundation and the Time Square Church Medical Clinic.

The second goal is to see a world outside of New York City, outside the neighborhoods that they know so intimately. This new view is obviously having a powerful effect, as Malachi Gayle, a rising sophomore at the High School for Art & Design, demonstrates in his own words:

During the preparation for our trip, Haiti was painted as an island that lost so much. Coming here made me realize that this is all true, and that the media was not just hyping up Haiti's tragedies to make them seem like more than what they really were.  

I have been in Haiti now for three days, and as we drive and walk through the streets you see things that will absolutely break your heart. There are houses built completely out of sheet metal and rocks from the earthquake's rubble, and there are people who bath in the streets without clean water or privacy. Trash overflows on some streets leaving an odor that people don’t just have to smell but work near, live near, and sleep near. All over you see stray cats, dogs, and goats.  

Being here and seeing the struggles of the Haitian people makes me truly value what I have at home. I have a home, food to eat every night, clean water whenever I want, and a bed to sleep in at night. This cultural exchange has really helped me realize that a lot of what I have in Harlem that feels like a necessity is truly a luxury—stuff as simple as furniture. There is no way I could go through this experience and not come more thankful for all the sacrifices my mom makes to make sure I have all that I need. So, I want say: Thank you, Mom! You are a wonderful parent and provider. I am truly grateful to have you!