The Children's Aid Blog

25 Years and Still Going Strong

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In 1992, Children’s Aid launched a program that seemed, at the time, experimental and cutting edge: we put counselors, a doctor, and other human services into a school. We called it a community school.

When this happened at I.S. 218, in Washington Heights, David Dinkins was the mayor, the vast majority of people had no idea what email was, and a gallon of gas was $1.05. Things have changed, but our conviction remains that children, youth, and families are best positioned to succeed when you provide them with easy access to the tools and resources that build well-being.

Last week, more than 100 people—current students, community school alums, Children’s Aid staff current and former, education activists, and more—gathered in Morningside Heights to celebrate the rich history of community schools and the belief that the best is yet to come.

“There is always a way when you know what you’re doing is right,” said Judy Dimon, a longtime supporter of Children’s Aid community schools. “Everyone here has demonstrated the power of community schools.”

The community school strategy is all about partnership. Without it, they won’t succeed, nor will the young people who depend on the help they get through their community school. We’re committed to this strategy the boundless potential of our children and youth.  

The Associates Council Hosts Their Seventh Annual Spring Benefit

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On Thursday, March 30, the Associates Council held their Seventh Annual Spring Benefit at the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue. This flagship fundraising initiative brought together over 160 glammed-up guests ready to enjoy an evening full of tasty hors d’oeuvres, a premium and plentiful open bar, and a luxury raffle with nearly 30 opportunities to walk away with a fabulous prize. Adorned with navy and white paper lanterns and delicate, spring flowers, the Manhattan Penthouse and its breathtaking views served as the perfect backdrop for our spring soiree. Guests were treated to the musical stylings of DJ Benny Blaze, a lively photo booth courtesy of Say Cheese Rentals, and mouthwatering cupcakes from both Sprinkles and Molly’s Cupcakes. Our liquor sponsors - Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Brooklyn Brewery, and Wolffer Estate – treated us to delicious adult beverages, and we were also fortunate to have Marcus Photography supporting our event through their team of expert photographers.

The program began with a welcome from Maggie Taplett and Lauren Wisniewski, our hardworking co-chairs of the Spring Benefit. They thanked key supporters and attendees, and then introduced Drema Brown, vice president of the School Age Division, who shared a brief yet inspiring message about the importance of after-school programming and how events such as these raise critical funding for our programs.

Net proceeds from this year’s Spring Benefit are going to support the services and programs of the Children’s Aid School Age Division. Serving more than 10,000 children and families each year, this division supports the healthy and successful development of children during their elementary and middle school years, both during and after the school day as well as on weekends. Programs cover a spectrum of disciplines, including scholastics, arts, athletics, and leadership and career development. By the end of the night, the event had raised over $37,000!

At this time, we’d like to thank Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, our Bronze sponsor, for their continued support and the following in-kind donors for making our raffle truly exceptional:

  • Alex and Ani
  • Alton Lane
  • Bandier
  • Birddogs
  • Blue Coral Swimwear
  • Casper
  • COVRY Sunglasses
  • The Daily Show
  • Emmy Squared
  • Equinox
  • Flywheel
  • Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Spa
  • The Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc.
  • Hersha Hospitality Management
  • Highview Realty
  • In Transit
  • John Allan’s
  • Li-Lac
  • Lo & Sons
  • McKay Williamson
  • The McKittrick Hotel
  • Murray’s Cheese
  • New York Health & Racquet Club
  • The National Hockey League
  • NOTE Cosmetics
  • Paintbox
  • Le Parker Meridien
  • Quality Branded Restaurants
  • Rustico Cooking
  • Southwest Airlines
  • S&P Global
  • Uplift Studios

And finally, to our guests and friends, we thank you for your generosity and for choosing Children’s Aid. Your continued support ensures that children and youth receive the particular supports and services they need to grow, learn, and succeed. We couldn’t do this work without you.

Until next time!

Check out some select photos from the event here.

 

 

A Night of Inspiration

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Spring has finally sprung in New York City. For some, that means smelling the flowers in bloom or stowing away those winter boots. Here at Children’s Aid we look forward to the annual Garden of Dreams Foundation Talent Show where some of our most inspiring young people have the opportunity to let their artistic abilities shine. And this year’s show, held at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, April 3, was no exception.

The night opened with a number by the Garden of Dreams Alumni Choir, which includes Timolyn Benton, who showcased her skills back in 2015 and now serves as a mentor to other performers.  The evening’s group acts featured the Mirabal Sisters Dancers, The Children’s Aid Society Chorus, and Emmanuelle Collado and The Children’s Aid Society Junior Chorus, while Enmanuel Delarosa dazzled the audience (almost 6,000 people strong!) with his rendition of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good,” and Timolyn joined fellow Children’s Aid representatives Hennessy Germosen and Idania Quezada, along with O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge (via video), for a beautiful take on the band’s song “Peace.”

As an organization, we couldn’t be more proud of all of our young people who took to the stage on Monday night. It takes an incredible amount of self-confidence, not to mention a healthy dose of discipline and bravery, to perform in front of thousands, sharing the art you love with a captive audience. To all of our young performers we say a heartfelt “Bravo!” 

Photo Credit: Zack Lane/MSG Photos

A Sweet Read for Every Child

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Our friends at Sweet Reads are as dedicated as we are to inspiring a love of reading early. Through a number of book drives, they have generously donated 1,078 new books to Children’s Aid, making it possible for every child in our early childhood services to take home a new book during National Reading Month. We couldn’t be more appreciative of their partnership, which helps us nurture strong, lifelong readers, one book at a time.

“We want to keep kids engaged and excited about reading so we look to keep their libraries replenished,” said Tamiko Hubbard, executive director of Sweet Reads. “We were excited to partner with Children’s Aid – it was a perfect fit, particularly for this month.”

Sweet Reads isn’t done yet. They hope to reach their goal of donating a total of 1,200 books to Children’s Aid before the end of March. If you are interested in helping Sweet Reads support Children’s Aid and other organizations, there are a couple of opportunities to donate books or your time.

Sweet Reads will also host a “Beauty and the Beast” book fair at Barnes & Noble, in Bridgewater, NJ, on April 1, which will feature story time, a tea party, and an appearance and from a special Disney princess. Families in attendance will also have the opportunity to win a “Beauty and the Beast” prize pack with a submitted Sweet Reads book fair voucher.

If you can't attend the book fair but would still like to support Sweet Read’s fundraising efforts,  a portion of your purchase at any Barnes & Noble bookstore or online will go to Sweet Reads if you provide book fair ID 12115648 at checkout.

You can find more details about Sweet Reads and their event on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweetreadsorg/

Celebrating the Impact

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In honor of National Social Work Month, we celebrate the men and women who are on the front lines every day with our children and their families.

Last week, the East Harlem Center’s gym was filled with friendly faces as we celebrated their vital efforts. President and CEO Phoebe Boyer paid tribute to our hardworking social workers. Inspiring words came from Sandra Escamilla-Davies and Georgia Boothe, our vice presidents of Adolescence and Child Welfare and Family Services, respectively.

While March may be over, Children’s Aid appreciates our diligent social workers every month. Thank you for your commitment and passion to the communities we serve.

A Leader in Health

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For the past several years on Friday mornings, Dr. Richard Besser has stopped by the Children’s Aid Dunlevy Milbank Medical Center to provide primary health care to our clients. Children, their parents, and Children’s Aid staff all looked forward to his visits, which he graciously made as a volunteer pediatrician. His kindness and depth of service was evident in the ways he went above and beyond the call of his medical oath to address each patient’s holistic needs—and replacing outgrown sneakers when needed. 

Dr. Besser extended his last visit to break bread with the staff that have been fortunate to work with him over these years. He has served as an invaluable friend to the Children’s Aid community, and we are incredibly excited to congratulate him on his new role as the new president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF is very fortunate to have gained a dedicated and passionate leader in health. While we will miss his presence on Fridays at Milbank, we greatly look forward to the work Dr. Besser will continue to do to keep all of our communities healthy. 

Associates Council Seventh Annual Spring Benefit

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On March 30, 2017, the Associates Council of The Children’s Aid Society will host its Seventh Annual Spring Benefit at the Manhattan Penthouse from 7:00-10:00 p.m. 

The Seventh Annual Spring Benefit is the Associate Council’s flagship fundraising event, and will bring together 250 professionals from the tri-state area for a spectacular night of delicious food, cocktails, and dancing! The event features a premium open bar, heavy passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations, a photo booth, and a live DJ. Guests will also have the chance to purchase tickets towards a luxury raffle, with prizes including airline tickets, hotel stays, fitness classes, tickets to sporting and art events, and more.

All net proceeds from the event will support the School Age Division of Children’s Aid, which works with young people in elementary and middle school to ensure that they are realizing their potential and positioning themselves for success in and beyond the classroom. The School Age Division serves over 10,000 young people in Washington Heights, Harlem, East Harlem, the Bronx, and Staten Island, providing a wide range of programming, including education, arts, sports, and health and wellness both during and after the school day as well as on the weekends. After-school programs are delivered across 21 community schools and centers, including our Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School in the Bronx.  The division also runs 15 summer camp programs span schools, community centers, and our Wagon Road Camp in Chappaqua, NY.

For tickets, donations, or raffle ticket purchases, please visit picatic.com/TheSpringBenefit2017.

For more information about the event, sponsorship opportunities, or Children’s Aid, please contact Malia Poai, Director of Events, at events@childrensaidsociety.org or 212-284-4591.

 

A Golden Work Anniversary

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On average, American workers stay at their jobs for about four years.

Carolyn Masters has beaten that by a factor of 12…and then some.

She came to work for Children’s Aid in 1967, before Neil Armstrong had taken the first steps on the moon. We were her second employer, and we can’t imagine that she’ll ever know another one. Not long out of Fordham University’s graduate school for social work, Carolyn started with us in what was known then as the natural parent unit. “I worked with young pregnant women, most of them single,” said Carolyn. “I helped them plan and make the best decision for the child, themselves, and their family.”

Ever since that time, Carolyn has been working to make sure children have safe, loving homes. Laws evolve, the nomenclature changes—her title is now quality improvement specialist—but she still gets the same joy when she knows things have happened for the best.

“It’s wonderful when you can see and hear about happy results,” said Carolyn. “I’ve seen so many wonderful situations, youngsters with severe deficits who were adopted and are doing well. Those are the things that give you a great deal of satisfaction.”

Her commitment to working for children and families is amazing. Her secret for job satisfaction really seems more like simple but insightful advice. “Enjoy the parts of the job you can,” she said. “Not every part is enjoyable. Be realistic. Be honest. And be grateful for the parts that work out happily.”

As you might expect, she’s generous in giving credit for her fulfillment with Children’s Aid. “I’ve always felt so fortunate in my coworkers,” said Carolyn. “What a lovely bunch of people to have to work with. That’s been such a pleasure.”

Thank you, Carolyn, for your dedication and making the work a pleasure. 

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Little Learners, Enormous Impact

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Despite mounds of evidence proving how critical a child’s first years are in his development and learning, the United States is still far behind most other developed countries in the way it supports families to ensure toddlers get all they need. This is especially true for families that struggle economically, who simply can’t afford to take unpaid leave from work and who often have difficulty finding high-quality child care.

That’s why we were honored to work with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF on a screening and panel discussion of a very important film: “The Beginning of Life.” (You can stream the film on Netflix.)

The film is one aspect of UNICEF’s newly launched Early Childhood Development (ECD) Campaign to increase global understanding and engagement around the importance of nutrition, stimulation, protection, and love in the earliest years of life, and to grow investment in that work. The organization’s goal, according to its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is that all governments should “ensure all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care, and preprimary education, so that they are ready for primary education.”

Moria Cappio, our vice president of Early Childhood programs, moderated a panel that featured Caitlin McCurn, with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF; Stephanie Gendell from Citizens' Committee for Children; and James Matison of the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society. Among the many things they have in common is a steadfast commitment to advocate for stronger early childhood development programs, here in New York City and across the nation. 

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A Month of Reading on the Rug

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In honor of National Reading Month, Children’s Aid is celebrating the most critical time for children to develop strong reading and literacy skills: early childhood. Children’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict their third-grade reading achievement. However, many children from lower-income households can hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than those from higher-income households. A simple and fun way intervention to keep children engaged at home happens to be story time.

We have teamed up with prominent, award-winning children’s authors for our inaugural “Reading on the Rug” series throughout March. Ten authors will read their original works to the 3-5 year olds in our early childhood classes to celebrate the importance of story time and reading to children regularly. Chosen books will also explore identity, diversity, and community—themes that will create strong foundations for our little ones’ ever-growing intellectual curiosity and help cement their love of reading early.

We’ve listed the authors and their works below, and we will be posting pictures of their readings at our sites throughout March. You can also join us at home by following our “Reading on the Rug” series on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Show us what you’re reading with your young ones: post pictures or video of story time and tag us @childrensaidnyc #ReadingOnTheRug.

We look forward to reading on the rug with you!

Yangsook Choi started drawing at age 4, and loved telling her grandma stories. Born and raised in Korea, she moved to New York to study art. She has written and illustrated many books for young readers, which have been acclaimed as "Best of the Best" by the Chicago Public Library, included on the American Library Association Notable Book list, selected by PBS Reading Rainbow. Yangsook has received the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award.

Nina Crews uses photography and collage to create distinctive picture books. Her stories draw inspiration from the children and neighborhoods of Brooklyn – her home for more than 25 years. Her books have received rave reviews and been selected by the Junior Library Guild, ALA Notable Committee, and Bank Street College of Education. Her latest books are “The Neighborhood Sing-Along” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and lived in San Francisco. She’s the author and illustrator of “Let’s Go Hugo!,” “Santiago Stays,” “Knit Together,” and “Maria Had a Little Llama,” which received the American Library Association Pura Belpré Illustration Honor.

Zetta Elliott was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. in 1994. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. She is the author of more than 20 books for young readers, including the award-winning picture book “Bird.” Zetta is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing.

Thyra Heder is the author of “Fraidyzoo,” an ALA-ALSC Notable Book, “The Bear Report,” and the forthcoming “Alfie: (The Turtle That Disappeared),” a picture book about the friendship between a girl and her pet turtle told from both points of view, available fall 2017. She is also an illustrator and storyboard artist for film and advertising and lives in Brooklyn.

Teddy Lykouretzos is 10 (1/2) years old and lives in Manhattan. He is currently in fourth grade. In his spare time, Teddy loves to bake, complete Technic Lego sets, read science fiction books, and practice yoga. Teddy also loves to ride his bike on trails, swim, kayak, and fly drones. Before Teddy turned 10, he wrote his first book, “The Absolute Best Guide for Stuffed Animal Caretaking.” He not only wrote the entire book by himself, but he also was the photographer for the book. Teddy has recently started writing his second book.

Christopher Silas Neal is an award-winning author and illustrator of picture books. His first book with Kate Messner, “Over and Under the Snow,” was praised for its "stunning retro-style illustrations" (New York Times), and was a 2011 New York Times Editor's Choice and an E.B. White Honoree in 2012. Christopher’s author debut titled “Everyone” was praised by Publisher's Weekly as "simple, honest, lyrical."

Evan Turk is the award-winning illustrator of the “Grandfather Gandhi” books and the author/illustrator of “The Storyteller.” Originally from Colorado, he now lives in the Hudson River Valley and loves traveling and learning about other cultures through drawing.

James Yang was born in Oklahoma and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA degree in communication arts and design. James has won over 250 awards for design and illustration excellence including best of show from 3×3 Magazine. James currently lives in Brooklyn where he happily works for a variety of clients worldwide, both book publishers and animators.

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