The Children's Aid Blog

It's not too late to save childcare and early childhood education

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Despite the scorching heat, a large group of advocates, children and parents delivered 30,000 petitions to New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to save childcare and early childhood education (view the photo gallery here). City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diana Reyna and Margaret Chin each spoke out against the proposed budget cuts. Thank you to our supporters too, who helped Children’s Aid contribute over 2,300 signatures!

But we’re not done fighting yet.  City budget negotiations are happening right now. The Coalition to Save Childcare is staging a call-in today and Friday to key city officials.  It only takes a minute – and we’ve provided all the details here, including the names of the officials, their numbers and a short script of what you can say. 

Call-in days are Thursday, June 9, 2011 and Friday, June 10, 2011.

Call Speaker Quinn at (212) 564-7757 and tell her to make sure child care is funded in the final budget.

Call the Mayor’s Budget Director, Mark Page, at (212) 788-5900 and tell him child care must be saved.

Call the Deputy Mayor, Howard Wolfson, at (212) 788-3070 and tell him child care must be saved.

Use this script as a guide for your call:

Hi, my name's ________. I'm calling to urge ________ to Save Child Care.

These cuts would mean hundreds of early childhood classrooms will be closed and fewer working families will be able to find safe, affordable child care. Without child care, working parents like me will not be able to keep our jobs and our children will lose their opportunity for a quality early education. We’re counting on you to restore the funding to save child care. Thank you.

Let us know you completed your call and how it went so we can make sure we hit our goal of 500 calls. Email the coalition at savechildcare@gmail.com.

For more information visit: www.savechildcare.com.

Click play below to watch talk Melissa Mark-Viverito about saving afterschool.

City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito Calls to Save After-School from The After-School Corporation on Vimeo.

East Harlem Center Artists Share Their Visions of New York City

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Thanks to a gracious invitation by UBS, youth at The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center had the opportunity to participate in New York City: Through Our Eyes, an art exhibit commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. For this special exhibit, the children created drawings of city skyscrapers which were featured alongside the work of the professional artist Stephen Wiltshire. Mr. Wiltshire contributed a sketched depiction of the entire New York City skyline, drawn from memory after having taken a helicopter ride around the city.

Prior to the art exhibit, Mr. Wiltshire paid a visit to the East Harlem Center where he worked with our own young aspiring artists. As part of his visit, the children observed and drew along with the artist as he sketched one of his favorite New York City buildings – the Empire State Building.

New York City: Through Our Eyes highlights the vitality of New York City. In addition to Stephen Wiltshire's drawing and works created by Children's Aid students, the exhibit included photos from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and artwork created by participants of the Harlem School of the Arts and the YMCA of Greater New York.

Photos courtesy of Cathleen Miles and www.andrew-sullivan.com

Children's Aid Rallies to Save OST After School Programs

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On Tuesday, May 31st more than 200 youth, parents and after-school staff rallied at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Community Center to save after-school programs for thousands of children across New York City.

Co-sponsored by The New York City Youth Alliance and the Coalition to Preserve OST Afterschool Programs, the rally participants urged the Mayor and the City Council to work together to restore more than $23 million for after-school programs (Out-of-School Time – OST – programs) in the City’s budget – 16,000 NYC children across New York City face the loss of their after-school program. NYC would lose a quarter of its after-school system if the money is not restored. The rally focused on the impact of the cuts on Manhattan programs – funding for 22 programs in Manhattan would be eliminated.

Highlights of the rally included hearing from youth and parents about the importance of after-school programs. Angel Jackson-Young, a 7th grader at Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy IV who attends the after-school program at Milbank, said that even though he would continue staying out of trouble if he had no after-school program to attend, he was not confident that his peers would stay on that same track. Mr. Rakim Smith, a single father, spoke about how thankful he is that his adolescent daughter has a safe and enriching program to attend, without which she would be home watching television. And finally, Ms. Mable Moody, a grandparent, gave a rousing talk about why we, as a city, must give our children every opportunity to succeed. The rally attendants also had the opportunity to have their voices heard by providing video testimony and writing letters to elected officials. Selena Valentin, a 14 year old who attends C.I.S. 166, a Children’s Aid Community School in the Bronx wrote that her after-school program has given her the confidence to be a leader and strive towards her dreams.

The Mayor and City Council are currently negotiating the Fiscal Year 2012 City budget, which begins in July 1st. The next weeks are critical.

To advocate for after-school programs, please see our Take Action page.

Children’s Aid Keeps the Arts Alive!

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On Friday, May 20th, the theater stage at El Museo del Barrio was full of dynamic young performers from Children’s Aid arts programs at the 14th Annual Spring Concert. Cheerleaders from the Mirabel Sisters Campus in Washington Heights energized the crowd pep rally style, while elementary school kids from The Phillip Coltoff Center’s Junior Chorus performed a lively rendition of "Lollipop" complete with choreography. The performances didn’t end there, the audience at El Museo del Barrio clapped and sang along with the excited performers the entire night. The Drew Hamilton Harmony in Harlem Jazz Band performed masterpieces by M. Santamaria and Miles Davis. The evening also included stimulating words from professional performers who talked about the impact the arts have had in their lives. Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox encouraged the student artists to stay motivated and discussed the role arts classes played in her success as a performer. Professional dancers Corinne Tighe and Lisa Matsuoka described their experiences balancing their dance careers with other professional interests. The night concluded with inspirational words from stage veteran Sandra Reaves-Phillips who joined all of the young performers for a stirring rendition of the song “Lean on Me.”

Students receive $1,500 to implement cardiovascular health awareness project in their school

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Thanks to a grant from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, The Children’s Aid Society awarded $1,500 to a group of students from MS293 City College Academy of the Arts last week. The students will use the funds to implement a cardiovascular health awareness project at Salome Ureña Campus next school year, a Children’s Aid Society Community School.

The student’s proposal includes sponsoring healthy cooking classes for their classmates and organizing several farmers markets in the school’s front yard which will be open to the community. The students in the winning team are Yerika Cuevas, Genesys Durán, Luz Hiraldo, Lisbeth Rosado and Janay Salcedo. In her presentation, Janay indicated that one of the reasons affecting the health outcomes of her peers is the poor access to healthy food.  “We want to open up their minds to see that healthy food can also be tasty” said Janay.

The winning proposal was selected among five projects presented by high school juniors from the City College Academy of the Arts. These students have also been receiving a semesterof classes on cardiovascular health risks and healthy cooking sponsored by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations.

The students will be assisted by Children’s Aid Society staff in the completion of their project.

Photo courtesy of Ben Russell. From left to right, Migdalia Cortes-Torres, Children’s Aid Society Community School Director, Dr. Burnedette Drysdale, MS293 principal, students JanaySalcedo, Lisbeth Rosado, Genesys Durán, and Yerika Cuevas, and Adria Cruz, Children’s Aid Society School Health Services Manager

2011 CoWAP Conference Preview

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The second conference of the NYC Coalition on Working with Abusive Partners (CoWAP) will take place on June 2nd at The Conference Center at JP Morgan Chase. Entitled One Size Does Not Fit All: Advancing the Dialogue on Working with Abusive Partners, this year's conference is "designed for anyone working in the anti-domestic violence movement, as well as other legal and social service professionals who work with survivors, abusers, teens and children impacted by domestic violence and relationship abuse. Experts in the area of domestic violence prevention and intervention will discuss the research, strategies and controversies surrounding abusive partner intervention and prevention."

To register for the conference, please visit www.childrensaidsociety.org/cowap-conference

Click "play" below to hear Kerry Moles, Director of Family Wellness at Children's Aid and Co-Chair of CoWAP, discuss the upcoming CoWAP conference.

Guest Speaker Talks to Parents about Breast Cancer

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The parents at P.S. 5 Ellen Lurie School, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, received a serious wake-up call last week. The School-Based Health Center staff surprised them with a special guest speaker. Marlene Pérez (pictured in the center), a young woman battling breast cancer, paid a visit to the school’s early morning PTA meeting on Thursday May 19th to talk about this devastating disease. At the age of 26, Ms. Pérez was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and later opted to have a double mastectomy out of fear of eventually succumbing to the disease. She has lost a grandmother and aunt to breast cancer.

For many of the women in attendance, the majority of whom were of Hispanic descent, this discussion was a welcome opportunity to ask the often uncomfortable questions that have been on their minds. For a few, it was a moment to share their own fears and to receive assurance that seeing a medical professional is ultimately the right choice. Graciously, Marlene encouraged any and all questions and put a lot of myths related to breast cancer to rest. Among these was, “can I get breast cancer while breast feeding?” asked by a young mother who revealed she recently noticed a lump she never had before. The main theme throughout the morning was how important it is to stick to regular exams, both at the doctor’s office and self-exams, and to be proactive about one’s own health. Ms. Pérez encouraged all of the women to “go to the doctor, get yourself checked out.” Early detection can ultimately be a lifesaver.

Related Content:

Click "play" below to learn more about our School-Based Health Centers.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Economic Inequality and Social Immobility

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"The achievement gap between children in poverty and their peers is already far too wide. Our budgets -- our values -- need to reflect a dedication to and investment in all of our citizens, particularly for our children who will be making these decisions for future generations."

Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children's Aid Society

As our nation's political and economic upheavals play out in policy choices, it is clear that our country has not yet come to terms with what I believe is our most existential threat: economic inequality and social immobility. The 2010 Census revealed the greatest income disparity between rich and poor Americans since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. Today children are far more likely than they were 30 years ago to remain in the socioeconomic class into which they were born. Despite these distressing facts, the words "poverty" or "poor" were not mentioned by Governor Cuomo or Mayor Bloomberg in each of their 2012 "state of" addresses.

Read complete article on The Huffington Post

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

May is National Foster Care Month

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President Barack Obama has proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month. “For nearly half a million youth in foster care across our country, the best path to success we can give them is the chance to experience a loving home where they can feel secure and thrive,” the President said. During the month of May, the President is calling on all Americans to ensure a brighter future for foster youth and to celebrate the individuals and families who selflessly open their homes and their hearts to children in foster care. By standing in for a child's parent, foster families can help children that may otherwise become disconnected, neglected or in some very sad cases, abused. Today, there is still a great need for foster care parents.

The Children's Aid Society finds homes for more than 500 children each year. Our foster care program provides specialized services including Family Foster Care, Medical Foster Care, Therapeutic Foster Care and services for teens "aging out" of foster care. This May we ask you to consider opening your hearts to children in need of a loving and stable environment.

  • Applicants must be over the age of 21. They can be single, married or in a domestic partnership.
  • Applicant must be self sufficient. Applicant’s income can be from employment, pension, or social security.
  • Applicant must complete a state screening/background check.
  • Applicant must complete 30 hours of Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training, basic training for all foster parent applicants.
  • Applicants must be in good physical and mental health and have completed physical exams for every household member.
  • Applicant must be the lease holder to his or her own apartment or home.
  • Applicant must identify an emergency child care person.

Click here to learn more about how you can become a foster care parent or please call us at 212-949-4962.

Click "Play" below to hear one of our foster parents describe the experience and rewards of opening her home to children in need.

Teens Receive Special Congressional Recognition

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On Thursday, May 19th, Congressman Charles B. Rangel honored high-achieving, college-bound, high school seniors at his Congressional district office in the Adam Clayton Powell building in Harlem. The students had the opportunity to chat with the Congressman and pose for pictures. Among the students honored with Certificates of Special Congressional Recognition were three Children’s Aid Society participants, Danielle Cureton, Jessica Gooden and General Washington! Congratulations seniors!

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