The Children's Aid Blog

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.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Nonprofits Need Vets to Build the Nation

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"Because of their commitment to positive social change and dynamic work environments, nonprofits offer veterans unique opportunities to continue their service to America, and the sector can use the support."

Last week, in front of a crowd at the annual American Legion convention, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reducing unemployment among our nation's veterans. President Obama has proposed a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for those companies that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans with a disability.

I applaud President Obama for this solution which both boosts small businesses during a time of economic turmoil and provides jobs for our nation's brave soldiers. However, I would also encourage our president not to overlook the nonprofit sector and the tremendous opportunities these organizations provide for veterans to continue their service in support of our most vulnerable citizens.

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Jane Quinn and Sarah Jonas Address Youth Work in New Book

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The Children’s Aid Society’s very own Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools and Sarah Jonas, Director of the Regional Initiatives Department, pave the way for more effective youth work with their contribution to the newly released book, Advancing Youth Work.

In this book, seasoned professionals come together to share their expertise and observations of the field of youth work. 

“As youth work practitioners, Sarah Jonas and I were both very pleased to be invited to contribute our ideas to this ground-breaking volume” says Jane Quinn. “Sarah's chapter describes The Children's Aid Society's approach to supporting the quality of our after-school and summer programs through the professional development of our staff, and mine examines the opportunities and challenges across the youth work field as collectively we seek to improve practice and demonstrate results. The publication of this book is timely, as we launch a new school year. We are living in an era when our nation is struggling to identify effective ways to expand learning opportunities for our young people. This book will surely add a constructive voice to the debate, with its focus on the critical role of youth workers in promoting the learning and healthy development of children and adolescents in communities across America.”

The experiences shared in this book highlight the various trends and differences in youth work among programs. Additionally, questions are raised about the the education and training necessary to advance youth worker capabilities.

Visit the Advancing Youth Work facebook page to learn more and to receive a 20% discount code.

Healthy Foods Take Over East Harlem

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Earlier this month, participants of The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) attended an event at Union Settlement in East Harlem where Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and the stars of Super Sprowtz, an nutritional education series, talked to over 200 children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the event, CAS youth were given a $2 Youth Buck to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables at the Harvest Home-Union Settlement Market, located at 104th Street and Third Avenue. The Youth Bucks program is a collaboration of Go Green and the NYC Department of Health and is intended to encourage youth to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets. Click here to read more on this event and how the Manhattan Borough President is helping teach the next generation about healthier food choices.

Check out our Go!Healthy program to learn how Children's Aid is educating children about wellness and healthy eating.

Above: Kids from the Children's Aid Society sport the Super Power 'S' sign after the Super Sprowtz show.

Photo credit: http://www.nymetroparents.com/article/Super-Sprowtz-Teach-East-Harlem-Kids-About-Healthy-Eating

Children's Aid Employee Wins Golden Heart Award

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Donna Chandler's years of service to The Children’s Aid Society’s Drew Hamilton Center in Harlem have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Donna (pictured at right), the Early Childhood Educational Director at Drew Hamilton, has been awarded the Golden Heart Award by the Center for Children’s Initiative (CCI) as part of the CCI’s 2011 Champions for Children Awards. The Early Childhood Program at The Children’s Aid Society nominated Donna for this award because of her tireless efforts in advocating for the children and families of the center and community.

Margaret Caspe, Director of Early Childhood Programs at Children's Aid, wrote of Donna, “Her unconditional love and understanding for children’s needs is evident everyday when she demands a safe and stimulating environment for the children she serves. She often comes to work at 6 a.m. and often leaves well after 7 p.m. all in the effort to make sure that all responsibilities are fulfilled, including kitchen and custodial.”

Donna, along with the other award recipients will be honored at the CCI annual Champions for Children Awards Gala on October 24th.  The event recognizes professionals and organizations for their efforts in early child care and education. Congratulations Donna!

Metamorphosis: Ailey/CAS Camp Washington Heights Finale

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Written by: Giany Mejia

Photography by: Giany Mejia

For dozens of children who spent their summer months as part of The Children’s Aid Society (CAS)/Ailey Camp Washington Heights, the closure to their summer experience was right on stage for all to see. Campers celebrated the end of summer with a big production for friends and family, marking emotional growth and maturity with splits, leaps and drums.

On Thursday, August 11th, the CAS/Ailey Camps Washington Heights held its culminating event, their end of summer camp finale performance, in the main theatre at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Colorful, inspiring and moving choreography, poetry and drums transported the audience to a place far beyond the busy traffic outside on the Grand Concourse.

CAS/Ailey Camp empowers young people by helping them develop a strong sense of self-esteem, self-expression and mastery. Each summer, 80 Children’s Aid campers (ages 10 to 14) from throughout New York City spend the summer learning the basic techniques of ballet, modern dance, jazz and tap.

“To see that when things come together right, when you have good schools, when you have good programs, when you have wonderful arts, that it can unleash this incredible power that young people have” said Bill Weisberg, The Children’s Aid Society’s Chief Operating Officer in his opening remarks.  “The whole world needs to be reminded that when things come together right, we support children in the right way, this beauty is unleashed.”

Find out more about the CAS/Ailey Camp.

Children's Aid Celebrates Foster Parents

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Written by: Giany Mejia

Photography by: Lily Kesselman

The Children’s Aid Society held its annual Foster Parent Recognition Dinner Dance on June 30th at Maestros, a catering hall in the Bronx. This year’s theme was “Foster Parents Add Color to Children's Lives," a fitting tribute to these special individuals who open their hearts and their homes to New York City's children in need. 

Each year, parents and staff alike look forward to this event which includes raffles, awards and dancing. The Children's Aid Society's President and CEO, Richard R. Buery, Jr. and Jane F. Golden, the Vice President for Child Welfare Policy and Foster Care Services, were on hand to personally thank all of the foster parents for their dedication and commitment.

Please visit the Adoption and Foster Care page to learn more about our programs and how you can become a foster parent.

Hiking the Giraffe Path: P.S. 5 Promotes Active Lifestyle through Visual Art and Exercise

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Written by: Tamara M. Royal, Education Director, P.S. 5 Head Start

Have you ever seen a pink giraffe? Ever hiked uphill with infants, toddlers, grandparents, dads, a pregnant mom, teachers, social workers, education directors, administrative staff and the school cook too?  We did!

“Hike The Heights 7 was the culminating event in a series of artistic and healthy activities that comprise The Children’s Aid Society’s P.S. 5 Head Start Community Partnership Collaboration. This event, which brings families into the parks of Northern Manhattan for hiking, also doubles as an outdoor art exhibit displaying the children’s handmade giraffe sculptures! This experience gives the children and their families the opportunity to express and display their inner art while being more active. Instead of spending the day indoors as if we were caged in an urban jungle, we hiked in herds and had a wild time!

This year’s annual event was bigger, better and healthier than ever! After 6 years of hiking history, the P.S. 5 Head Start hosted a training and practice hike that included more than 100 additional children and their families. The first leg of the hike started at P.S. 5 near 200th street. Stroller-pushing parents and toddlers alike were motivated to keep trekking by their own public art installation along the way, also known as the giraffe path.

Why giraffes you wonder? Like the boot is to Italy, the trail connecting the parks of Northern Manhattan resembles the long legs and long neck of a giraffe. Giraffes, like children, remind us all of the unique vantage point in which they experience the world!