The Children's Aid Blog

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.

Fannie Lou Students Host a Fresh Foods Youth Market

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Children’s Aid community school Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School recently held its back to school night, where students kicked off the new year in good health by organizing their very own “Youth Market.” This market was part of Children’s Aid’s Go!Healthy initiative, and brought fresh, locally grown produce to over 150 members of the school community at affordable prices. Students also held sampling stations of nutritious and tasty dishes for all to try.

The market also provided educational and advocacy components as well. Attendees were offered healthy recipes, information about healthy eating habits and guidelines on the importance of portion control. Displays of soda cans filled with sugar illustrated how much sugar is contained in soft drinks, and reinforced the importance of choosing to consume fewer sweets. The students also gathered signatures for a City Hall petition that asks for all NYC public school student to receive free and nutritious lunches.  

Students raised $100 at the event, all of which will go towards funding the next exciting Youth Market at Fannie Lou.

Back to School: The First Week

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Allow for flexibility in your own schedule. You want to be available for any unexpected trips to your child’s school. Some children need help with this new transition and overcoming the anxiety that they may experience at the start of a new school year.

Wake up early. Set your alarm clocks earlier this week to allow for extra time in the mornings. Your child will need the extra time to get used to a new morning routine.

After school. Review with your child their after school agenda. Make sure your child has a clear understanding of where they should be once school lets out and with whom if you are not able to meet to pick them up. Studies show that between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. is when youth are more likely to commit crime or be the victim of a crime.

Review your child’s backpacks. Review the work your child has already begun to do with enthusiasm and talk about what he/she will be learning this school year. Also, check for informational handouts which will be sent home often in the next couple of weeks.

Get to know other school staff. It is not only your child’s teacher or principal that keeps the school running day-to-day. Find out who are the main office staff, school nurse and mental health professionals. These are your best resources should you encounter any issues during the school year.

Gearing Up for a New School Year

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All public schools begin classes on Monday, September 9, which does not leave much time to establish a routine if you haven’t already done so in your home. The beginning of a new school year can be anxiety-inducing for parents and children alike but with a few tweaks to a child’s daily routine and pre-planning for the year ahead, the first days of school can start off without a hitch. Below are some helpful tips from The Children’s Aid Society to remember and put into practice to ensure you get off on the right foot:

Health check. Be sure your child is in good physical and mental health. Schedule checkups early and possibly before the first day of classes. Having your child’s physical exam before the beginning of school is a good way to ensure there are no health-related surprises during the school year, such as poor eye health or dental concerns.

Mark your calendar. Make a note of important dates, especially back-to-school activities and/or parent engagement events. This is especially important if you have children in more than one school and need to make special arrangements.

Stock up. Most schools provide parents with a list of supplies that are needed for the school year ahead during the first few weeks, but it’s always a good idea to stock up on the basics. If this is not your first “back to school,” you may already know what will be requested. Take advantage of sales and stock up on pencils, crayons, rulers and composition books for elementary-aged children. Parents are also asked to supply tissues, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes. Some teachers require specific supplies, so save receipts for items that you may need to return later.

School year routine. Before school starts, re-establish your child’s school year bedtime. Its best to start this atleast a week before so that they are not cranky those first days back at school.

Morning activities. Encourage your child to play quiet games or do some light reading in the mornings. This will help your child be better prepared to learn and focus during the school day.

School Visit. If this is a brand new school for your child, take the time to visit the school. Helping your child familiarize him or herself with the school building, classrooms, bathrooms, etc. can help ease anxieties. Call ahead to ensure your child’s teacher will can be available to introduce him or herself to your child. Most teachers are back at school weeks ahead of the start date prepping their classroom and working on lesson plans.

Homework spot. This area can be in the family room or kitchen. Its best to keep younger children close by because they often need encouragement and help. 

Talk it out. Going back to school to a new class and teacher can be pretty stressful for children. Set aside some time to check-in with your child.  If there is anything of particular concern, don't hesitate to call your child’s pediatrician, who can help determine what worries are age-appropriate.

Always be enthusiastic and excited about the first day of school and every school day after that. To parents and children, best of luck and have a happy, healthy school year!

Summer Interns Praise Political Experience

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Dozens of teens gathered at The Children’s Aid Society’s National Center for Community Schools for the 2013 Internship Appreciation Ceremony on Friday, August 9 to celebrate the culmination of a memorable summer work experience. The teens were joined by family, friends and Children’s Aid staff as well as staff from the offices of over a dozen New York City elected officials at which they interned over the summer.

The interns had the unique opportunity to experience a real-life, bustling office of an elected official. These youth not only worked on shredding paper or going on the occasional coffee run; they assisted with special community projects, events and constituent questions. The skills and confidence acquired while working with these important civil servants have prepared the teens that much more for the college experience and the work force.

The appreciation ceremony was an opportunity for the interns to express their gratitude to the staff who have guided them through an unforgettable summer experience. The Children’s Aid Society would like to thank the offices of Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa, Assembly Member Herman D. Farrell, Assembly Member Keith Wright, Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Council Member Annabel Palma, Council Member Inez Dickens, Council Member Melissa Mark- Viverito, Council Member Robert Jackson, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Bill Perkins.

Staten Island Elected Officials Help Beat the "Summer Slide"

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Staten Island politicians came out to The Children’s Aid Society’s Goodhue Center last week to share their love of reading with summer camp youth for its very first ‘Reading Leaders Day’. Councilwoman Debi Rose, Assemblymember Matthew Titone, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano along with representatives from the offices of the Richmond County District Attorney, State Senator Diane J. Savino and the Staten Island Borough President’s office all led readings to groups of very attentive youngsters. Out on the green lawn, the campers were all ears as their “Reading Leader” brought the book to life in his/her own unique and entertaining way.

The Children’s Aid Society is committed to increasing summer learning to counter the effects of the “summer slide.” The National Summer Learning Association reports that “most students lose two months of mathematical skills every summer, and low-income children typically lose another two to three months in reading.” The literacy component of The ]Children’s Aid Society’s summer curriculum addresses the issue of summer learning loss by establishing structured learning time that requires participants to be active readers.

With CME Group Support, Artistic Possibilities Grow in After-School

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In the 2012-2013 school year, after-school arts programming thrived at Children’s Aid community schools P.S. 8, located in Washington Heights, and C.S. 61, located in our South Bronx campus. With the generous support of funders, including the CME Group Community Foundation, more than 430 students participated in engaging arts enrichment activities that provided unique opportunities to express their cultural and community pride, and discover new talents and interests.  

In the out-of-school time hours, students sketched, painted, collaged and created other works of art. Youth also took part in clubs that exposed them to music history, dance and drama. At P.S. 8, second grade students enrolled in Children’s Aid’s popular jewelry-making club created their own unique designs inspired by Indian and African traditions.

Dance was a particularly popular after-school activity last year at P.S. 8 and C.S. 61, with students studying diverse forms of dance and movement that included the merengue, samba, hip-hop, tango and flamenco.

The Children’s Aid Society believes that early and consistent access and exposure to the arts are integral to a child’s positive development. The vital support received each year from generous funders, including the CME Group Community Foundation, makes it possible for Children’s Aid to provide high-quality arts programs to hundreds of children, who would otherwise not have access to these valuable, formative experiences.