The Children's Aid Blog

Save The Date for "The Graduates/Los Graduados"

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On Monday, October 28, PBS premieres, The Graduates/Los Graduados at 10:00 p.m. The film shares the compelling stories of six young Latinos from around the country who beat the odds and achieved success in school. Featured in this nationwide premiere is Bronx-born Chastity Salas, a Children’s Aid Society community school alumna and current freshman at the State University of New York at Potsdam.

Though her mother worked hard to provide steady housing for Chastity and her three younger brothers, the family found themselves living in a homeless shelter. During these difficult times, the after-school program at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, helped provide a safe and encouraging place for Chastity to build positive relationships, enhance her study skills and explore her creativity through music. With help from the Student Success Center and the EXCEL College Prep Program, Chastity was set on track to college and was better prepared for the challenges of higher education.

Watch the trailer here and check your local listings for Monday’s premiere.

Join the online conversation about this film and the ways to curb the high school dropout rate. Visit the film’s Facebook page and use the hashtag #TheGraduates/#LosGraduados on Twitter to show your support.

Domestic Violence Part 3: The Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

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This is the third in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check back next week for our final blog on Why Victims Stay and how you can help.

While every relationship is different, survivors of domestic violence have identified common characteristics and behaviors of abusive partners.  Knowing the warning signs can help you to avoid abusive relationships or identify abuse and get help for yourself or a friend/family member sooner. If you recognize any of the warning signs below, consider calling the Family Wellness Program or one of the hotlines listed below.

  1. Extreme jealousy – when one partner wants to know who the other is with and what they are doing at all times, is extremely possessive, accuses them of cheating with no reason. 
  2. Isolation – when one partner wants the other all to him/her self, tries to cut them off from friends, family, and activities – might even insist they quit their job or school.
  3. Controlling behavior – when one partner tries to control the other by telling them what to do, how to dress, who to hang out with – or manipulates them into doing what they want.
  4. Fast-moving relationship – when a partner who comes on very strong, is an extreme “smooth talker” and wants make major commitments very early in the relationship.
  5. Blaming – when one partner always seems to blame the other for his/her own behavior – “You made me do this.”
  6. History of abusive behavior – if someone has ever been abusive to a current or ex partner, a child or an animal; it is unlikely they will change without help.
  7. Moodiness – someone with a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality.
  8. Put-downs – when one partner is constantly criticizing the other, putting them down and making them feel badly about themselves.
  9. Entitlement – when someone believes they are entitled to be in charge or be catered to, whether because of gender or other reasons.
  10. Intimidation and threats - when one partner uses threats or intimidating body language, punches walls or breaks things to intimidate the other.

How to get help:

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)


Trauma Follows Children to School

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Did you know? A history of trauma can impact a child’s language, memory, attention and sequencing skills. The effects of traumatic stress on children have been well-documented and as a result health, social service and education practitioners have developed many effective strategies for addressing the needs of trauma-effected youth. Despite the evidence and resources available, schools are not regularly implementing the strategies or policies necessary to address these negative effects.

The Impact of Trauma on Learning and Development Conference, a collaboration between The Children’s Aid Society and New York Foundling, will be held on Friday, November 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the National Training Center for Community Schools in Morningside Heights. This day long conference will give education and social services students and professionals an in-depth look at this critical issue. Leading researchers and practitioners will present on a range of topics, including: current research on the impact of trauma and abuse on learning and memory; organizing support services in a community school setting; and effective therapeutic and teaching models and strategies.

Click here to learn more and to register.


Richard Buery on the Huffington Post: Keeping the Oversized Soda Fight in Perspective

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"There is an irrefutable, direct link between obesity and consumption of sugary beverages - soda, "juice" drinks, sports drinks and other popular products. Research shows that for each sugary drink a child consumes per day, his or her risk of obesity increases by a whopping 60 percent."

Read more in my latest piece on the Huffington Post.

Domestic Violence Part 2: The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

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This is the second in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check back each week in October for upcoming blogs on Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

It is estimated that at least 10 – 20% of American children are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The effects on children vary widely. Some children are very resilient and continue to function in relatively healthy ways. But many children suffer from long-term effects.

Children who see, hear or are aware of violence at home are much more likely to get hurt themselves – either by getting hit directly or being ‘caught in the crossfire’ and hurt accidentally. Even when they are not hurt physically, they are usually hurt emotionally. They are much more likely to get in trouble for fighting with peers, do poorly in school, be diagnosed with learning disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or other mental health problems like depression or anxiety. As adolescents, they are at greater risk of substance abuse, dating violence, suicide, and a whole host of other social and emotional problems.

The cycle of violence in a family all too often repeats itself from generation to generation. And it impacts not only the family, but all of society, not only because of the cost in the health care and criminal justice arenas, but because those same child witnesses are more likely to grow up to commit not only intimate partner abuse, but many other forms of violence in the community. 

If a child you know is being exposed to domestic violence, call one of the numbers below to find out how you can help:

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)


Children’s Aid Shines the Lights on Afterschool

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On October 17, The Children’s Aid Society joined organizations around the country for the 14th Annual Lights On Afterschool rally. Lights On Afterschool is celebrated nationwide to call attention to the importance of after-school programs for America's children, families and communities.

Afterschool programs provide safe and productive environments for children who are alone and unsupervised after the school day. These programs nurture creativity, inspire learning and address the social and emotional needs of the students.

Children’s Aid students, families and staff showed their appreciation for their after-school program in many different ways. Many wrote letters to their elected officials on the importance of afterschool, signed petitions and created collages of their favorite afterschool activities. A popular activity among our sites is to decorate paper light bulbs and hang them up on the walls to symbolize “always keep the lights on afterschool programs.” Afterschool students at P.S. 50, a Children’s Aid community school in Harlem, marched around the neighborhood with their light bulbs and signs to spread the word as well.

Visit our photo gallery to see how Children’s Aid celebrated Lights On Afterschool this year.

Community Schools in Action: Addressing the Opportunity Gap

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In 1992, Children's Aid launched its first community school, which organizes the resources of the school and the community around student success. The foundations of the community schools model are: strong teaching and school leadership; rich and meaningful out-of-school-time experiences; and health and social supports for students and their families to eliminate barriers so children can thrive. Children's Aid created the National Center for Community Schools in 1994 in response to a growing interest in this comprehensive and integrated approach. The role of NCCS is to build the capacity of schools, districts, community partners and government agencies to organize their human and financial resources around student success. Since its founding, NCCS has provided training, consultation and other forms of technical assistance to all of the major national and international community school initiatives.

Today, leaders from community school initiatives across the country will send teams of educators, policymakers and community partners to learn, teach, share and network at the The Children's Aid Society's 10th Community Schools Practicum. This biennial event will present important new research that documents the growing “opportunity gap” between America’s richest and poorest families. It will explore specific policies and practices that contribute to this gap, and will use the opportunity gap framework as a lens for developing and expanding equity-oriented solutions. Other topics to be covered will include reducing chronic absenteeism, life coaching and racial disparity in school discipline.

The Keynote will be delivered by Robert D. Putnam, best-selling author of The Widening Opportunity Gap: Growing up Rich and Growing up Poor in America Today, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Better Together and Restoring the American Community. Mr. Putnam is also the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Learn more here.

Reading for the Record and a Visit from Simba

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On October 3, children and adults across America united to read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long as part of Jumpstart’s national campaign, Read for the Record. Each year, this campaign brings millions individuals together to promote the importance of early childhood education, literacy and kindergarten preparedness. At the Drew Hamilton Early Learning Center, participants and staff joined the mission by reading the book on friendship together and creating art work. Children’s Aid’s very own Chief Operating Officer, Bill Weisberg, read the book to children in the green room and was acknowledged with a certificate of appreciation.

In 2012, 2.3 million people participated in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record. Check back soon for an update on the official results of this campaign.

As a special treat, the children were later joined by singer/actor, Oliver Clifton who played role of “Simba” in The Lion King in both the Las Vegas and New York City productions. Clifton helped the children work up an appetite with numerous song and dance activities in the center’s yard who wore their Otis inspired head gear.














Domestic Violence Part 1: What Everyone Should Know

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In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are republishing four posts written by Kerry Moles, Children's Aid's Director of Family Wellness. Check back each week in October for upcoming blogs on The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children, Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

The Children’s Aid Society recognizes domestic violence, also known as relationship abuse or intimate partner abuse, as one of the most pressing issues facing children, families and communities today.   Most people know someone who has been abused or abusive, even if they are not aware of it.  It can devastate families, lead to lifelong problems for the children who witness it, and contributes to a wide range of violence in the community. That is why CAS is committed to providing both education to prevent abuse and services to help families impacted by it to find safety and heal from its effects.

Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Abuse is defined as a pattern in an intimate relationship in which one partner (spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, dating partner) attempts to gain or maintain power and control over the other.  Abusers may use physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and financial tactics to establish that control. Anyone can be abused – this is an issue that cuts across race, culture, class, religion and sexual orientation, and teens as well as adults experience it.  The most important thing to remember is that NO ONE deserves to be abused. While victims are often convinced that they bring on the abuse themselves, this is never the case – a person who chooses to abuse someone else is always responsible for his or her own actions.

If you or someone you know is being abused or abusive, you should know that help is available. The first step is to call the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness Program or one of the hotline numbers listed below. We will listen without judgment, give you information about your options, and help you figure out the next steps. All of our services are free and confidential.

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)


NY Giants’ Justin Tuck Headlines College Savings Program Launch

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New York Giants’ football star Justin Tuck joined the Citi Foundation and the 1:1 Fund yesterday at the Children’s Aid College Prep to launch a new initiative helping students save and plan for college. A select group of students from AAMI and 100 first and second graders from the charter school are the first group of students to participate.

The program is called CAS College Savers, and all students who sign up for a CAS College Savers account will receive a $100 seed deposit, dollar-for-dollar matched contributions of up to $100 during the first school year and additional matches and incentives as families contribute to the accounts. Initial funding for the program is provided through a $100,000 grant from Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy, a philanthropic initiative established in 2008 by Tuck and his wife Lauran.

The Citi Foundation has supported this initiative by creating a comprehensive program that includes a college readiness curriculum, financial education for children and parents and a matched student savings plan. The 1:1 Fund, a project of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), allows individual donors to make contributions to the CAS College Savers Program through an online marketplace, which are matched by CFED.

In the United States, graduating from college is the most effective strategy to break intergenerational cycles of poverty. However, less than 10% of students from low-income families graduate from college by their mid-20s. Research demonstrates that dedicated children’s savings accounts–combined with financial education–significantly improve a student’s ability to save for, enroll in and complete college.

The CAS College Savers program joins a growing list of similar efforts in San Francisco, Nevada, Ohio and elsewhere, empowering disadvantaged students to achieve college graduation.