The Children's Aid Blog

Week of the Young Child

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The Week of the Young Child is an annual week-long celebration in April sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Week of the Young Child was first established in 1971 to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. During this week early childhood programs and educators are recognized for their work. In the United States, nearly 11 million pre-school children under the age of five are in non-parental day care.

At The Children’s Aid Society, we recognize that the early childhood years are the most critical for laying the foundation for children’s success academically and throughout life. Children’s Aid uses a comprehensive approach to the education of our youngest children — from birth to five — that enables us to serve just over 1,000 pre-school children in 12 different programs. Helping children develop a greater sense of self, a respect for others and a lifelong love of learning are the guiding principles of our work with pre-schoolers.

View a complete photo gallery of Early Childhood programs throughout The Children's Aid Society.


Curtis HS Youth Spread The Love

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For Self Harm Awareness month in March, student health ambassadors at Curtis High School, a Children's Aid Society community school in Staten Island, organized a “Self-Love Day.” Student volunteers handed out surveys that youth completed anonymously and led activities like "Fears vs Dreams" from the "To Write Love on Her Arms" movement. Students wrote their biggest fears on bricks and greatest dreams on footprints. The bricks will make a path in the Health Center with the dream footprints stepping over the fears and along the path. A makeshift photo booth was set up for students to take “Love Thy Selfies”, complete with positive body image quotes for them to hold up. Because these issues are so prevalent amongst adolescents, students wrote “LOVE” on their arms with sharpies to support those who are struggling with depression, self harm and thoughts of suicide.

After school in the library, students watched the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” The movie depicts the story of a 15 year old struggling with a friend's suicide and his own mental health issues all the while trying to find his place in high school.

All throughout the day, ambassadors and staff connected these issues to resources offered right inside the school at the school based health center. Out of 188 surveys collected, 49 students admitted to self-harming. Information like this will be essential to the Mental Health staff at Curtis High School in their efforts in creating a health center that students feel comforatble going to for help.

National Volunteer Week

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The Children’s Aid Society wouldn’t be what it is today without the dedication, heart, and help of its volunteers.  For years, volunteers have played an integral role in supporting the CAS mission and its programming through direct service volunteering, fundraising for a variety of initiatives and programs, and by providing opportunities and unique learning experiences for all of our children and youth.

We’d like to thank each of our direct service volunteers who selflessly give up of their time on a weekly basis to tutor, facilitate programming, assist in the classroom, and spend quality time with many of our deserving children.  Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to do the great work that we do.

We’d also like to thank each of corporate partners and volunteers.  You have brightened our community centers and sites through beautification projects, you have improved the minds of our youth by facilitating workshops, been role models by sharing your expertise through mentoring, and have brought cheer to our kids during the holiday season.   

And finally, to the Associates Council, thank you for the countless hours that you devote to our cause through mobilizing your friends and connections and by giving of your time to organize and staff events like the Fitness Jamboree and the clothing drive.  And your celebrated fundraisers have drawn attention to CAS and have brought in vital resources and funding to support critical programs.   The work continues even now as we make final preparations for Wonderland taking place on April 24 at Manhattan Penthouse.  (Buy your tickets here.)

In a time where it is often much easier to sit back, relax, and let other people take responsibility, you have stepped up.  You go beyond performing random acts of kindness.  You consistently serve and look for ways in which to make the world a better place.   We are so grateful to you and for you and are proud that you are a part of the CAS family!  Thank you and Happy National Volunteer Week!

--Malia Poai & Kat Connelly, Volunteer Services, The Children’s Aid Society

The Hatter and Hare Await You

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"'Twinkle, twinkle, little rat!
How I wonder what you're at!'
You know the song perhaps?"

... sang the Hatter.

You too will be singing strange songs soon after our soirée in Wonderland. Come join the Children's Aid Society Associate Council for a mysteriously magical meet at the marvelous Manhattan Penthouse. Come drop the drudgeries of daily-do's whilst dawning your divine draperies to dive into a drink or two. We'll be sure you'll leave lightheartedly lax and lovely!

Wonderland is quite an inspirational theme and the Associate Council has been racing like a rabbit to prepare an event that lives up to its playful spin. We've lined-up a memorable experience for you that will, like Alice, allow you to leave your world behind so that you can freely partake in frivolities worth singing about – all within the sight of a gorgeous New York City skyline. You be Alice and we'll be the interesting characters who are sure to make you laugh as we party with you. Enjoy delicious drink, fantastic food, and fabulous friends, while we raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause – The Children’s Aid Society’s Foster Care Program! We couldn't be more right in saying that this will be the most perfectly perfect way for you to kick-off your Spring. On April 24th, The City will have no better rabbit hole to hop into – promise!

The Hatter and Hare await you for a drink. But don't be like the Rabbit– late, late, late! Get your tickets today, today, today! 

"'Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle–"

--Nathaniel Soria, Co-Chair, Marketing Committee

CAS Applauds the Governor and State Legislature

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The Governor and the New York State Legislature reached an agreement early Saturday morning on the Fiscal Year 14-15 budget, and we are pleased that the children of New York State have been prioritized in this budget.

The budget includes funding for many of the priorities that Children’s Aid values, including universal pre-kindergarten, the continuation of after-school programs, and more time to determine how best to ensure that school-based health centers can continue to serve thousands of children across New York State.  All of these programs are key parts of the community schools strategy, which was funded in the budget for a second consecutive year.

The opportunity gap between children in poverty and their peers is already far too wide. These programs will go a long way in helping to narrow the gap with regard to academics and health – and will produce lifelong positive outcomes – while also saving taxpayer dollars in the long term.

We applaud the Governor and New York State Legislature for prioritizing children in this budget.


2014 CAS Youth of the Year

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Earlier this week, The Children's Aid Society's Adolescence Division coordinated an internal competition to select the young person who would represent Children's Aid at the upcoming Boys & Girls Club of America’s Youth of the Year State Competition.

Six young people representing Children's Aid sites, Fannie Lou Hamer High School in the Bronx and Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem, were nominated for Youth of the Year honors. Selection was based on leadership within the “club,” their commitment to the community and their academic achievements. The candidates underwent an intense process that included writing essays and securing letters of recommendation and/or supporting documentation from their site coordinators. The youth also gave a speech in to a panel of Children's Aid representatives who also evaluated the written applications and formally interviewed each candidate.

Ciarra Leocadio was selected as the Children's Aid Society's 2014 Youth of the Year. Saul Soto and Nyuma Gumaneh, both from the Hope Leadership Academy, were awarded first and second runner-up honors, respectively.

Up next for Ciarra will be to travel to Albany for the Youth of the Year State Competition on May 18-20 where she will compete against other Youth of the Year candidates from across the state of New York. The winner of the state competition will go on to compete in a regional competition. A national Youth of the Year will ultimately be named based on the regional competition.

Ciarra is an Advanced Peer Trainer at the Hope Leadership Academy and has participated in a number of programs, including JPMorgan Project LIVE, MSG Classroom, and the Germany Exchange Program. She will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall on a full Posse Foundation scholarship and plans to become an OB-GYN. The Children's Aid Society is proud to have Ciarra as our 2014 Youth of the Year and we wish her best of luck in Albany!



From the Associates Council: Wonderland Supports CAS Foster Care Programs

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The Children’s Aid Society Associates Council is hosting its fourth annual spring fundraiser themed Wonderland“ on Thursday, April 24 from 7-10pm at the Manhattan Penthouse.

Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will benefit the foster care programs, which provides care to over 500 young people, ranging from ages 0 to 21, each year. The Children's Aid Society foster care program draws on its 160+ history of helping abused and neglected children by placing them in families that can provide care and support.

“Children's Aid Society is so excited that the foster care programs will benefit from this event,” said Jane Golden, Vice President of Child Welfare and Family Services. “We look forward to partnering with the Associates Council to help us enhance the services we provide to children, youth and families involved with the foster care system – safe, stable home environments and the promise of a bright future.”

Each year, Children's Aid Society foster care programs monitor over 300 family foster homes and facilitate the adoption of approximately 90 children/youth who cannot return to their birth families. Children’s Aid also has two specialized foster care programs – the Treatment Family Foster Care and Medical Foster Care. These programs serve youth with special emotional and psychiatric needs and medically fragile/chronically ill children, respectively. In the past ten years, the Children's Aid Society has also developed new and innovative service models for meeting the specialized needs of adolescents in foster care by creating a Teen Foster Care unit.

By joining us for Wonderland, you will help enhance these Children's Aid Society foster care programs and improve the lives of children in our neediest New York City communities.

We hope to see you on April 24. Buy tickets today!

--Ali Rotondo, Co-Chair, Marketing Committee



Washington Heights Community Celebrates Women's History Month

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Earlier this week, the SU Campus, a Children's Aid Society community school in Washington Heights, held its Seventh Annual Professional Hispanic Women’s Conference. The conference celebrates National Women’s History Month and shines a spotlight on the achievements and contributions of hispanic woment by bringing together members of the community for an evening of entertainment, empowerment and growth.

On Wednesday, March 19, a panel of successful Hispanic women spoke to the audience about perseverance, the importance of education and shared personal anecdotes of how they overcame their own personal obstacles in their pursuits. The panel included Barbara Camacho, Esq. Fragomen Fellow; City Bar Justice Center, Honorable Judge Denise Dominguez, New York Civil Court and Fenix Arias, Associate Dean of Student Engagement and Success, Bronx Community College. The women became very popular with the audience and their motivational energy inspired many to get back on track in pursuing their own goals

In addition, the staff at SU campus honored two dedicated Children’s Aid staff members, Hersilia Mendez, Director of External Affairs and Communications for National Center for Community Schools and Jennifer Archibald, Educational Coordinator at SU Campus, for their contributions to the Washington Heights community. Both were celebrated with awards and accolades from children, parents Children’s Aid staff and elected officials. The office of Assemblymember Gabriela Rosa presented both with an official citation which praised both women’s outstanding commitment to the children and families of Washington Heights.

7th Annual Women's Conference Honors Hersilia Mendez

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Hersilia Mendez, Director of External Affairs and Communications for the National Technical Assistance Center for Community Schools, will be honored for her strong leadership and commitment at the Seventh Annual Professional Hispanic Women's Conference on Wednesday, March 19, 2014.

The conference will be held at the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Campus at 4600 Broadway New York NY 10040. For more information, call Lydia Aguasanta at 212-942-1383 or Leila Arbaje at 718-663-9546.

How long have you been with The Children’s Aid Society?  

I have been with Children’s Aid for 21 years – I began in 1993.

Describe how you became involved with CAS, up to your current position now.

I began in 1993 as the art consultant and instructor for P.S.5 and I.S.218, the two first Children’s Aid Society flagship community schools. My job was to ensure that we provided high quality art programs during after school and summer. I was also teaching art at P.S. 5 and to the Intensive Care Education Program, a very successful intervention for at risk students at I.S. 218. I was fascinated by the community school concept; particularly the way they were welcoming immigrant parents into the schools and helping them engage with their childrens’ schooling (something that I never saw in Forest Hills, where my children grew up). I became an active advocate of community schools and in 1995 was invited to join the National Technical Assistance Center for Community Schools (now National Center for Community Schools), founded in 1994, as Deputy Director. I became Director of External Affairs and Communications in 2010.

How do you feel about being honored at the 7th Annual Hispanic Women’s Conference at SU campus?

It's a great honor, I feel humbled.  

From your personal life, who is a female role-model that inspired you and how have they made an impact on your life? 

It may sound too common place but my mother has been my role model.  She was born in 1915 in a little town in the Pacific coast of Colombia. She was a “mulata” in a very racist and patriarchal/male dominated country. She was a woman ahead of her time.  A feminist both at heart and active, that passed those values on to her three sons and three daughters. She was a highly accomplished professional and intellectual, who worked outside of the house until she died at the age of 75. She married my father when she was 32 years old (unheard of at the time) and was at my father’s side when he died 42 years later.  All of her six children have advanced academic degrees - she totally believed that education and equity go hand in hand.  All to say, that she truly juggled being an amazing mother, a supportive wife and a very successful career women, at a time when most Colombian women were expected to be only housewives, or work at dead-end jobs.  I’m grateful for being her daughter!   

Historic or/and contemporary, who is a female role-model that inspires you and what has been their contribution to society?

Historic woman: Simone de Beauvoir, a French feminist, political activist, intellectual, writer and thinker.   Reading her book "Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter" when I was 15 years old, was central to the woman I became and still am. That book reaffirmed my mother's upbringing. I firmly believe in womens’ rights as essential to human rights, and in the value of education, I also passed on those values to my daughter and my son, just as my mom did to us. Simone de Beauvoir was a big force behind the Women’ Liberation Movement of the 60s, 70s and 80s –a liberating movement for millions of women around the world –unfortunately there is much still to be done, we need many more women of Beauvoir’s caliber to inspire the new generations.

Contemporary Women:  I’m inspired by many Dominican women that I’ve been in contact with in Washington Heights during my 21 years at Children’s Aid. Lidia Aguasanta, for instance; I truly can write a book about this amazing woman that has inspired hundreds of community members (men, women and children) to develop their potential. Candita Suero, who against almost insurmountable odds raised a successful family. I believe in unsung heroines and heroes.  I can go on and on.  And of course I’m inspired by Hillary Clinton, she’s fantastic.




Hurry, Hurry Don’t Be Late...Associates Council Annual Spring Fundraiser

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This spring, the members of the Children’s Aid Society’s Associates Council (AC) are going down the rabbit hole and up to the penthouse to our very own “Wonderland” for our annual spring fundraising event on April 24, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at Manhattan Penthouse. The AC Events Committee is excited and hard at work painting the roses red to create “Wonderland”, one serious cocktail party for our guests. In the words of Alice: “What an idea. What a mad, crazy, wonderful idea.”

The proceeds of “Wonderland” will support this year’s AC beneficiary, The Children’s Aid Society’s Foster Care Program which provides support to hundreds of children in foster care in New York City.

Here, on the AC blog, we will be documenting the committee’s journey to “Wonderland.” Stay tuned for more about how we picked our theme, the fabulous raffle prizes and the generous companies who will be sponsoring us and more!

So, in the words of the White Rabbit – “Hurry, hurry don’t be late, remember the time (7pm!) and save the date (April 24)! And if you can’t contain your excitement – go ahead and buy your ticket here: