The Children's Aid Blog

Mutual Support: the Community Schools Strategy

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Students learn best when their physical, mental, emotional, and other needs are met, but schools rarely have the time and resources available to meet those needs. If schools can find a way to engage families and communities, students are more likely to succeed. But how? One answer is the community schools strategy.

A community school has a set of partnerships in place that connect the school, the students’ families, and the community. Community schools are more than just another model or program; they bring together community partners, parents, teachers, and administrators to assess students’ needs and identify the resources that are available to meet them.

Read more on the Coalition for Community Schools Website

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Revamping Sex Education: A New Approach to the Birds and the Bees

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"Parents and policymakers are more likely to embrace school-based family life and sexuality education programs that are age and stage appropriate, while not obsessing over public health outcomes to the exclusion of all other dimensions of a young person's development."

Co-written by Dr. Michael A. Carrera, Director of The Children's Aid Society-Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program

New York City School Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be commended for their push to improve family life and sex education for public school students in grades 6-12. Current data indicate African-American and Latino teens in New York City have extraordinarily high rates of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk-taking. Public education has an obligation to address this frightening trend. However, the Department of Education's narrow approach, using genital-sexual issues as the driving theme, must be significantly broadened in scope to effectively address this daunting public health and personal development issue. The City should consider a more comprehensive initiative that takes into account all aspects of a young person's growth and development, not solely strategies associated with understanding and reducing sexual risk-taking.

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Richard Buery in The NonProfit Times: On Board for Term Limits

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Richard Buery admits he has a hard time getting rid of people. But that’s a good thing. “It’s a testament to how great our organization is and how great our work is,” said the president and CEO of Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in New York City.

Until this year, there were no term limits for board trustees of the 150-year-old charity. On average, board members served for about 15 years, with two who had served 39 and 34 years, respectively.

One of the strengths of Children’s Aid Society, said Buery, is that there are board members who know so much about the organization’s work.

“They’re very dedicated. We have trustees who have been on the board for a long time. Now the experience is great; it’s good to have that experience. But we also know that to have a real governing body that can have critical conversations about the future, you can’t have 50 people in the room.” He cited research that if there are more than seven people, a conversation will start to lose value.

Read more on The NonProfit Times

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Volunteers Teach Children That We Are Stronger Together

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In honor of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, volunteers from American Eagle Outfitters joined fifty elementary school kids at The Children’s Aid Society’s Frederick Douglass Center to create a commemorative banner. The beautiful banner features student-made self-portraits as well as decorated cut-outs of connected hands and t-shirts. Intended to inspire unity and celebrate the strength shown by Americans following the tragic attacks, the banner proudly hangs in the Frederick Douglass gym. 

This special event was part of the Frederick Douglass after-school program. Designed for children ages 5 - 11, the after-school offerings included everything from homework help and tutoring to arts, sports and more.

A special thank you to all of the volunteers from American Eagle Outfitters. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Please visit our volunteer program homepage for more information.

Children's Aid Announces Partnership with Jumpstart to Address Early Childhood Achievement Gap

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Written by: Margaret Caspe, Ph. D., Director of Early Childhood Programs, CAS

This fall The Children's Aid Society Early Childhood Department is embarking on a new partnership with Jumpstart to address the early childhood achievement gap. Jumpstart is an Americorps program in which college students and community volunteers deliver a supplementary literacy program to preschool children.  Jumpstart Corps members serve in classrooms twice a week for an entire school year; they read core storybooks and participate in targeted and intentional activities based on these stories that help develop key language and literacy skills.

To kick off the partnership, on September 23rd Margaret Caspe, the Director of Children’s Aid Society Early Childhood Programs spoke at Jumpstart’s Leadership Institute.  The panel was an opportunity for 75 of Jumpstart’s team leaders and volunteer coordinators to gain knowledge about the early childhood field, the different opportunities for growth in the sector and to be inspired by current early childhood leaders in NYC.  In addition to Margaret the panel included Sophia Pappas, Executive Director, Early Childhood NYC Department of Education, Maria Benejan, Associate Commissioner, Child Care and Head Start, NYC Agency for Children’s Services and Brian Wallace, Managing Director of Teacher Leadership Development, Teach for America

One of Jumpstart’s flagship initiatives is Read for the Record which this year is being held on October 6th.  On this day, more than 2 million people will read Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, calling for an end to the early education achievement gap.  To read more about the initiative and to pledge to read you can visit their website.

To learn more about Jumpstart here.  Follow this blog to learn more about how the partnership unfolds over the course of the year. 

Congratulations to Francisco Núñez, Former CAS Music Director, Newly Named 2011 MacArthur Fellow

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The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is proud to share that Francisco Núñez, past director of music for CAS and founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) was named one of 22 MacArthur Fellows in 2011.  As a recipient, Núñez's will receive a $500,000 fellowship over the course of five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to continue his work with his youth chorus program that targets inner-city students.  The unique feature of this fellowship is that it does not have reporting requirements or other stipulations, providing Núñez with the freedom to carry out his good work at his own pace—no strings attached.

He has served as founder and artistic director of YPC since its inception in 1988 as part of CAS.  Today, with over one thousand young people in five after-school choruses and thirteen choruses in its Satellite School Program in inner-city public schools, Núñez's YPC exposes young singers to an unmatched variety of music and music makers. Núñez held the position of director of music at CAS for nine years.

Photo credit: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Gotham Schools: Venerable Social Services Group Wades into School Management

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As a Bronx elementary school principal, Drema Brown routinely encountered students who were struggling to complete schoolwork without adequate health care, a stable address, or even electricity.

Challenges like those held Brown back from boosting academic achievement. Even worse, she said, she couldn’t solve the problems wrought by poverty, either.

“I might take it for granted that I can just take my daughter to an eye doctor’s appointment and I have insurance that is going to get her that $300, $400 pair of glasses. But sometimes in a school something as simple as that could languish for an entire school year,” said Brown, who headed P.S. 230 in the South Bronx’s District 9 from 2003 to 2007.

Now a top official at the Children’s Aid Society, the 158-year-old social services provider, Brown is leading an experiment in integrating health and social services into a school setting. Children’s Aid is set to open its charter school in the Morrisania section of the Bronx next fall. The Board of Regents formally approved the school’s charter earlier today.

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The Early Days of The Children’s Aid Society

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In the 1850’s an estimated 30,000 children, ranging in age from 6 to 18, lived homeless and neglected in the streets of New York City. In these same streets The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) was founded by Charles Loring Brace, who believed that there was a way to improve the futures of homeless children. The Orphan Trains, CAS’s first program for helping children move out of poverty, placed them in homes with stable and morally upright farm families in states out west. Brace believed that this would give these children the chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

The Orphan Train Movement and the success of other Children's Aid initiatives led to a host of child welfare reforms, including child labor laws, adoption and the establishment of foster care services, public education, the provision of health care and nutrition and vocational training.

To learn more about the Orphan Train Movement, watch this video by the New York Historical Society.

Richard Buery on Census Bureau’s Report on Poverty in America

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“In a country that has reduced taxes on the wealthiest citizens and balanced the budget on the backs of the neediest, it is shameful that 1 in 6 Americans are below the poverty line,” said Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. “Lack of access to basic nutrition disrupts every aspect of life for those it affects. It is particularly devastating for children, who may suffer from serious long-term health problems, development issues and difficultly learning as a result. The government has a responsibility to its residents to reinstate funding for programs that address food insecurity and to provide basic services for the most vulnerable members of our community. One way to remedy the problem here in New York is to reinstate the Personal Income Tax on the wealthiest.”

Protect Your Child Against Cyber Bullying

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With the school year in full swing, children throughout the city are becoming reacquainted with their school day routines. Along with their text books and reading projects, approximately 38% of girls and 26% of boys, have reported that cyber bullying is a sad fact they have to live with. Cyber bullying is a modern way for children to anonymously harass and humiliate their peers via social networking sites, email, instant messages or text messages and the saddest aspect of cyber bullying is that it is often very, very public.

This summer, the New York City Council convened with parents, youth and educators to discuss ways in tackling this devastating behavior. The following are some tips for parents on how to prepare their children for responsible participation in the cyber-world:

1. Closely monitor the history on the computer your child uses to track the websites they visit.
2. Set up Google alerts for your child's name to track what is being said about him/her on the internet.
3. Keep computers in a public space so that you can easily supervise what your child is doing online.
4. Check your child's status updates regularly.
5. Talk to your child against using applications that allow for anonymous posting on social-networking sites like Facebook.

Click here to learn more about cyber bullying and for more tips on how to protect your child on and off the internet.