The Children's Aid Blog

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.

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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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Associates Council Fundraiser Moves Early Childhood Programs FORWARD

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Last week the Associates Council hosted their First Annual Spring Cocktail Party, FORWARD—raising $15,000 that will go directly to The Children’s Aid Society’s Early Childhood Programs, exceeding the event’s goal by 50% and making it a huge success!

Close to 200 guests gathered at the picturesque Southwest Porch at Bryant Park on Wednesday, May 11th to enjoy gourmet food and specialty drinks from 'wichcraft at this sold out event. Guests mingled under white, twinkling lights, were warmed by the city’s only fire pit and enjoyed perfect weather signaling that summer is just around the corner. And to prove that giving to a great cause always pays back, many walked away with great raffle prizes that included Duane Street Hotel stays, Southwest Airline tickets, a wine tasting party from Moore Brothers Wine Company, designer pillows by Madeline Weinrib Atelier, a hair treatment by M. Mcleod Hair, and an Equinox summer membership, just to name a few. FORWARD was also privileged to have generous sponsors including Goldman Sachs (Gold Sponsor) and Trident Investment Management (Silver Sponsor). The gorgeous spring flower arrangements that dotted the tables were donated by Late Bloomer and Michael Willis graciously photographed the event.

For 26 years, 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. The AC proved true to this grand tradition through the dedicated service that they provided to Children’s Aid during the planning of this event. Throughout its history, AC members have also spearheaded and engaged in numerous initiatives, projects, and special events such as Miracle on Madison Avenue, the Annual Holiday Toy Drive, educational seminars and now FORWARD.

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.

Hope Academy Youth Honored by Boys & Girls Club of America

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Julio Santana, a participant at The Children's Aid Society Hope Leadership Academy, was recently honored as one of the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) “Faces of the Future.” His interest in computers and dedication to our technology program have earned him one of the few spots in this national campaign which highlights the great work being done at our community centers.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Julio is a young man who has been chasing a dream of a better future for his entire life. He spent most of his childhood in Santo Domingo with his mother after his father legally immigrated to New York almost thirty years ago. “It was lonely,” Julio said, but my father “always took care of us, he called, sent us money -- so I could study.” While in Dominican Republic, Julio attended a technical high school and studied computer programming, networking and learned to build databases using Microsoft Access.

In 2009, after enduring the loss of his older brother in an accident and watching his mother battle cancer, Julio and his mother were finally able to join the rest of their family in East Harlem. Eventually Julio began attending Hope Leadership Academy on Madison Avenue at 115th St.

When Julio first joined Hope, he barely spoke English, but his warm personality drew the other teens to him. Despite the language barrier, he became a leader in the technology program. Julio has been involved with computers ever since he “has memory,” he says. But thanks to the technology program he is gaining new skills, perfecting his English and having the opportunity to share his knowledge with other teens. Hope Leadership Academy has also introduced Julio to a welcoming community where he is able to meet and develop relationships with a diverse group of kids his age, as well as learn new tech skills and have access to a computer lab.

Julio is currently finishing an ESL prep course at Bronx Community College before he begins his degree in Computer Science. He wants to become a software engineer and earn his masters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because “It’s one of the 10 best schools in the world for technology. I did the research.” Julio’s drive and dedication is obvious to everyone who meets him and he is a role model for his peers at Hope.

-Joanna Grosberg

2011 Youth Speak Out on Education Conference

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On Tuesday, May 10th, hundreds of youth attended the  7th Annual Youth Speak Out on Education Conference held at New York University’s Kimmel Hall and presented by The Children’s Aid Society, The Department of Education and The Audrey Miller Poritzky Education Fund for Children. This year's conference theme was “Preparing Students in Transition to Succeed in College.” Middle and high school students from throughout New York City and Children’s Aid community centers and schools came together to present their research on issues affecting the academic success of students in transitional housing.

The event opened with welcoming and inspirational remarks by Elayna Konstan, Executive Officer, Office of Youth Development, and Susana Vilardell, Director of Students in Transitional Housing Programs of the New York City Department of Education, and New York Ranger Adam Graves. As in the past, the youth presented their topics and solutions using power point presentations, skits and poetry. Among the many academic obstacles faced by students in transitional housing, the ones touched upon at the conference included inadequate spaces to study or do homework because of overcrowding, loss of supplemental academic services and programs due to budget cuts and strict curfews at shelters that prevent teens from visiting colleges. One very moving presentation was given by Angel from Children’s Aid's Dunlevy Milbank Center, who spoke about the importance of peer mentoring and extended day services in the life of students in transitional housing. He said that too often he sees “kids hitting each other instead of hitting the books” and that “these programs help unleash talents.” Speaking of his own journey, he believes that these programs give children in transition the opportunity to be a kid.

This year the conference presented two Q&A panels, one featuring college students who were successful while in transitional housing or facing issues with immigration. This first panel discussion was moderated by Toure, host of FUSE Network’s”Hip Hop Shop” and “On The Record with FUSE.” The second panel included The Children’s Aid Society’s very own President and CEO, Richard R. Buery, Jr., along with Anthony Orzo, Deputy CEO, Office of School and Youth Development, New York City Department of Education. Both panelists shared their personal stories about the obstacles they had to overcome and advice on how to stay focused on the road to college. Mr. Buery, who was one of the few residents of his block in East New York to go to college, credits his education for his success today.

Please visit our complete Youth Speak Out Photo Gallery.