The Children's Aid Blog

Community School Honors the Memory of Jobis Ozoria

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Approximately 100 Children’s Aid Society parents, youth and staff crowded the auditorium at the Roberto Clemente Campus, a Children’s Aid Community School in the Bronx, for the naming ceremony in honor of Jobis Ozoria. The ceremony, which took place in early April, honored the life and work of Mr. Ozoria who was the Community School director at the Roberto Clemente Campus. He was tragically killed in a car accident in 2009.

Before his death, Jobis was instrumental in securing a grant from the office of New York City Council Member Helen Foster that was used to upgrade the auditorium’s audio equipment. The new auditorium will enhance all school functions and will also be of significant value to the students who admired and respected Jobis.

After a testimonial video with emotional and humorous anecdotes, Jobis’s father, sister and young daughter took to the stage and offered thanks for the tremendous amount of love and support. His sister shared a very meaningful dream she recently had with her late brother that brought the school a very strong message.

“…he came to me and wanted to take me to see where he lives now. He led me here, to I.S. 166.” She, along with other staff, reminded the students that Jobis had always wanted them to become bigger and better people, to graduate middle school, go on to high school and eventually college, that is exactly what he wanted for all his students.

2011 Iron Go! Chefs Competition: Teamwork, Healthy Cooking and Fun!

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For many children, Spring Break is coming to an end. But only a few can brag about having spent their time off participating in the 2nd Annual Children’s Aid Society Iron Go! Chefs Cooking Competition at the East Harlem Center! On April 19th, teams of elementary and middle school chefs from Children’s Aid Society centers and community schools showed off their cooking skills in hopes of winning the Best Overall prize and the prestigious title of “Iron Go! Chefs.” The students had only one hour to prep, cook and plate a delicious meal to be judged by a distinguished panel of judges, including New York City Commissioner of Community Affairs Nazli Parvizi, Radio Show host and Institute for Culinary Education instructor Chef Erica Wides (a.k.a. Chefsmartypants), filmmaker Heidi Reinberg and Children’s Aid staff.

All participating teams showed complete dedication in preparing a meal that was both healthy and delicious. Elementary age chefs competed during the morning with tasty breakfast treats and middle school students prepared nutritious meals appropriate for lunch or dinner with ingredients such as brown rice, salmon and shrimp.

Click here to view a complete photo gallery of the 2011 Go!Iron Chefs Compeition.

Click here to learn more about the Go!Healthy program.

All participating teams took home a prize in one category. This year's winners are:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMPETITION

Best Presentation - East Harlem Center Little Bites - Dish: Multigrain Pancakes with Fresh Fruit Sauce
Best Teamwork - Frederick Douglass Center’s Choppers - Dish: Hard-boiled Eggs and Pico de Gallo on multi-grain toast, served with a Mixed Berry Smoothie
Most Healthful - P.S. 5’s Chef Pepins, Dish - Cheesy Scrambled Eggs with a Quinoa Almond Milk Smoothie and a Fresh Fruit Cup
Most Ethnic Flair - C.S. 61 Scramblers - Dish: Breakfast Tostada with Kidney Beans, Scrambled Eggs and Low-fat Cheddar
Most Original
- P.S. 8 Little Stars’ Stars - Dish: Toasted Pita Nachos with Fresh Tomato “Star Sauce”, Spicy Egg and Veggie Omelet and Melted Cheddar Potatoes
Best Overall - P.S. 152 Top Chefs - Dish: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits with Veggie-packed Scrambled Eggs and Orange-Honey Fruit Salad

MIDDLE SCHOOL COMPETITION

Best Presentation - Mirabal Sisters Campus' MSC Chefs - Dish: Salmon and Baby Greens Salad in Whole Wheat Pita Pocket with Pineapple Salsa and a Delicious Pineapple “Soda”
Best Teamwork - East Harlem Center Mighty Bites - Dish: Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage and Carrot
Most Healthful - SUMA’s Dominasian Invasion - Dish: Asparagus-Broccoli-White Bean Soup
Most Ethnic Flair - I.S. 98 Bosses - Dish: Fish Taco with Pineapple-Strawberry Salsa
Most Original Dish - I.S. 166 Fire and Spice - Dish: Asian Noodles with Lemongrass Shrimp, Snap Peas and White Asparagus
Best Tasting
- I.S. 50’s Chef Kids Italiano - Dish: Whole Wheat Pasta with Sundried Tomatos and Feta Cheese
The Best Overall - Fannie Lou Hamer’s FLH Cooks - Dish: Salmon with Asparagus, Roasted Red Peppers and Brown Rice

Incredible Talent On Display at the 10th Annual Children's Art Show

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Dozens of youth attended the 10th Annual Children’s Art Show reception on April 14th to view their artwork on the legendary walls of the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. The children, accompanied by family and friends, were bursting with pride as they slowly looked around for their piece and stayed close by throughout the evening in case one of the many cameras wanted to capture their moment.

The 10th Annual Children’s Art Show showcased over 150 pieces of art by children ages 3-18 and featured artwork of students from The Children’s Aid Society's fall and winter programs. The reception also featured a salsa performance from P.S./I.S. 50 Vito Marcoantonio, a Children’s Aid Community School in Harlem, and a fashion show from the Eco-Fashion and Green Design club at the Mirabal Sisters community school campus in Washington Heights.

Click here to view a complete photo gallery of the Art Show.

The Associates Council: Young Professionals Making a Difference for Children's Aid

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The Children’s Aid Society Associates Council (AC) is comprised of a dedicated group of young professionals who share the common vision to “convey the mission of the organization through both their words and deeds.” Since 1985, the AC has been taking ordinary volunteers and transforming them into future leaders that help guide Children’s Aid in its mission to serve New York City’s neediest children and families.

Members of the AC come from a variety of fields including media, finance, education, human resources, and social work. They combine their individual talents to provide a vibrant and diverse resource to The Children’s Aid Society. Throughout its history, AC members have spearheaded and engaged in numerous initiatives, projects, and special events such as Miracle on Madison Avenue, the Annual Holiday Toy Drive, and “Cocktails for a Cause” happy hours.

Currently, the Associates Council is focusing its efforts on an exciting calendar of fundraising events and forums. These include:

Childhood Obesity Speakers Forum
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
6:30 to 8:30pm
105 East 22nd Street, New York, NY

The Associates Council of the Children’s Aid Society invites you to “Preventing Childhood Obesity: A Speakers Forum.”  Shockingly, this could be the first generation where children do not outlive their parents.  Experts Kevin Dedner from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Children's Aid Society's Stefania Patinella will present compelling information on this wide-spread issue which will inevitably have a huge impact on our healthcare system and the future of our children and families.  Come learn about the facts, our approach, and how you can make a difference! For more information or to RSVP for this event, please email Malia Poai at maliap@childrensaidsociety.org. For a preview of this event, listen to Stefania Patinella talk about The Children's Aid Society's efforts to combat childhood obesity in the podcast at the bottom of the post.

FORWARD—First Annual Spring Cocktail Event
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
6:00pm to 9:00pm
Southwest Porch at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

FORWARD will feature food from 'wichcraft, drinks from New York's best craft breweries, raffle prizes and more, all in one of the city's most picturesque spots. Proceeds go to The Children's Aid Society Early Childhood program. Purchase tickets here.

Click here for more information on these events or to learn more about The Children’s Aid Society Associates Council. You can also follow the AC on Facebook.

As a preview to the upcoming Childhood Obesity Speakers Forum, please click "Play" below to listen to an interview with Stefania Patinella, Director of Food and Nutrition Programs at The Children's Aid Society.

You may need: Adobe Flash Player.

The Children's Aid Podcast: Stefania Patinella discusses The Children's Aid Society's efforts to combat childhood obesity

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Sensibility Must Prevail in Approach to Teen Pregnancy Prevention

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"But teen pregnancy is a real problem, and it requires real solutions, not political jockeying. It is particularly acute among teens living in poverty. The Children's Aid Society has worked for years to address the issue and with our Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) we have seen real results."

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

Today's Huff Post New York, a microsite of The Huffington Post, features Richard Buery's article Sensibility Over Partisanship in Preventing Teen Pregnancy. Mr. Buery explains the importance of evidence-based adolescent pregnancy prevention models like the Children's Aid Society's Carrera Program (CAS-Carrera). He also warns that partisan political bickering greatly harms the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

Click here to read the complete article.

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Harlem Youth Show Off Knowledge and Skill in Moot Court

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The Street Law participants at The Children’s Aid Society’s Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem concluded their program with a successful Moot Court on Friday, April 8th at the Fried Frank Law Firm. The event showcased the students’ accomplishments and growth. The Street Law curriculum at Hope consists of 10 interactive lessons centered around the 4th Amendment (Search and Seizure).

The participants, with the guidance of their New York Law School student trainers, worked on developing arguments for a case involving searches conducted on school property. Before a panel of three judges, the students took turns debating both sides. Some argued that the searches were excessively intrusive while others represented the school’s interests arguing that the searches were a necessary way to maintain school safety. Both sides cited past cases to support their positions.

The Moot Court session was followed by a celebration that included food, drinks and a ceremony to honor students and mentors alike. Moot Court winners were awarded gift bags including gift certificates, movie tickets and t-shirts. The students took the opportunity to thank their volunteer mentors from New York Law School, presenting them with certificates of appreciation.

Click here to learn more about the many important programs going on at Hope Leadership Academy.

East Harlem Center Keystone Club Honored for Work in Career Exploration and Community Service

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The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center has much to celebrate! The center’s Keystone Club recently attended the 2011 National Keystone Conference in Orlando, Florida, where they were awarded the top prize in Career Exploration for their CSI: East Harlem event held in the fall of 2010. The Keystoners wanted to explore the fields of criminology and forensic science after learning that many of their peers at the center share an interest in these potential career paths. They spent weeks planning, writing and rehearsing a CSI-inspired, murder mystery skit. Hard work also went into identifying key panelists who could share their experiences and knowledge with the center’s participants. Panel members included missing persons detective Roberto Santos, mystery/crime novelist Doug Magee, NYC Medical Examiner Dr. Vincent Tranchida and Assistant District Attorneys Shanda Strain and Jung Park. The event was a great success and with help from the panel of professionals, the murder mystery was solved!

Along with Florida’s warmth, the group brought back a shiny new plaque to add to their collection at the East Harlem Center, a Boys & Girls Club of America affiliate. The youth also received $1,500 to be used towards their club’s future projects.

The Keystone Club enables young people to demonstrate leadership and build character through community service projects and fundraising. The East Harlem Center Keystone Club also received a “Runner Up” award of $500 in the National Keystone Project: Save Our Society category. Their winning project was a program they designed called “Happy Feet for the Sole.” The youth collected shoes to be donated to communities in Senegal, Africa after learning of the growing number of people contracting parasitic diseases from walking around in dirty water, dirt and soil. The collection of shoes will help children and adults avoid such infections that can lead to the loss of limbs and in worse cases, death. The donation of over 100 pair of shoes will reach Senegal by way of YES, Inc., an organization in Georgia.

Congrats to The East Harlem Center’s award-winning Keystone Club!

Milbank Center Student Shares His Experiences, Speaks out Against Federal Budget Cuts

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On March 21st, The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development hosted a public town hall/information session at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center. The topic was the potential loss of critical federal funds through the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). Jacob Torres Jackson, a Milbank Center participant (pictured at left), captivated the crowd when he delivered a speech that recounted his experiences at the Center and his attachment to its staff members and programs.

“Three weeks ago I got my report card and the first place I went to was Milbank. I wanted to show the staff my improvement. The staff was so proud of me and I was so proud of myself because the staff told me I did so great” said Jacob. “That’s what I wanted and needed to hear from my family at Milbank.”

Jacob also shared his fear of the losing important centers such as Milbank, a loss that would not only deeply impact his life but the lives of many of his peers. Last year, NYC received $31.9 million dollars through CSBG, which funded more than 200 community-based organizations and served 30,000 New York City residents. If the funding is cut at the federal level, it would be a devastating blow for NYC. In Harlem alone, it would mean a loss of $3.7 million and would affect 4,000 children and families. “Milbank keeps us kids out of the street… I am so grateful for all they do for me! It’s important that we all speak out against the budget cuts that can affect us youth! No to budget cuts!!!!”

CSBG is a federal program that provides critical funding to states and cities to support a broad range of community-based programs to combat poverty, empower people to achieve self-sufficiency, and revitalize low-income communities. CSBG funding supports programs for youth, families, seniors and immigrants in New York City.

Click here to read Jacob’s entire speech on Congressman’s Charles B. Rangel’s website.

Photo Credit: Lily Kesselman

Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, Responds to Calls for ACS Commissioner's Resignation

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The Children’s Aid Society serves tens of thousands of New York City children every day, including more than 4,000 children and families in the child welfare system. Ensuring the safety and well being of our city’s most vulnerable children is difficult work. It requires serious leadership, and I believe that John Mattingly, Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), has been such a leader.

Commissioner Mattingly has offered strong, consistent guidance on child welfare and is a recognized national expert in the field. He understands what it takes to work with families in crisis and how to make the difficult decisions that caseworkers make day in and day out. Mattingly has also put in place several mechanisms to strengthen accountability – both at ACS and with private child welfare agencies. These have no doubt strengthened child welfare practices across the City.

The tragic deaths of Marchella Pierce and Kymell Oram have understandably increased concerns about the effectiveness of New York City’s child welfare system. They should. But I disagree with recent calls for Commissioner Mattingly’s resignation. These calls scapegoat the head of ACS instead of confronting the systemic challenges involved in protecting children from abuse. Not the least of these challenges has been the public underinvestment in child protective services.

A recent analysis by the Independent Budget Office of budget cuts at 10 city agencies from 2009-2011 found that ACS received the deepest cut – 26.4% – as compared to 5.9% for the fire department and 6.7% for the police department. Commissioner Mattingly has worked hard to minimize the impact of those cuts, but make no mistake: just as excessively reducing the budgets of the police and fire departments would necessarily impact public safety, excessively reducing the ACS budget impacts our ability to protect and serve New York City’s children. The bravery of child welfare workers is often not seen in the same light as the bravery of our law enforcement, emergency, or military personnel—yet the work they do to protect our most vulnerable populations is as critically important.

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez Talks About the Importance of Early Childhood Education

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On Sunday March 27, 2011, about 35 Children’s Aid Society parents attended City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s State of the District Address held at the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Campus, a Children's Aid Community School in Washington Heights.

In the Council Member’s address, he talked about his accomplishments since 2009 and shared his vision for the neighborhood going forward. Rodriguez emphasized the importance of investing in early childhood education and acknowledged The Children’s Aid Society for its work in this field. “As a former educator, the issue of education is one that I have been committed to for many years and so I cannot emphasize enough how important our children’s education is, specifically education for children ages zero to five. Scientific research has proven time and again that the biggest investment we can make is to invest in our children’s education from the start.”

In closing, Council Member Rodriguez called upon his constituents to band together in order to make their neighborhoods safer and build a thriving community. “We need to continue to work together to ensure that our community is the best that it can be. We need to help one another to find more solutions to the problems that exist.”

Click here to learn more about The Children's Aid Society's Early Childhood programs.