The Children's Aid Blog

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.

Parents Go To Summer Camp Too

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“Tell your kids to let you know when you are being cranky,” advised Myrna Torres, deputy director of the School Age Division for Community Schools to a room full of parents on Tuesday, July 30. The parents, participants in the parent summer camp at Salome Ureña de Henríquez middle schools campus in Washington Heights, were in attendance for their last “Communication 101” workshop with Ms. Torres and to celebrate the culmination of the summer camp. In this last meeting, Ms. Torres shared a few tactics that she uses to not bring outside stress into the home and what her children say to let her know she is not communicating effectively.

The parents were recruited to join their own summer camp while signing up their children for summer activities at the SU Campus. The month-long camp offered workshops on keeping children safe on the Internet, special education services and advocating for your child’s academic needs, and the college application and admissions process, as well as honing their own communication skills. One dad commented that he has found success in sparking conversations with his two daughters with topics that interest them. “A Justin Bieber poster was hanging on their wall so I asked them to tell me about him,” he said. “We spent twenty minutes talking about Justin Bieber and it was great.”

The parents also received training on Aris, a SU Campus Intranet that connects parents and students to their teachers and classwork. On Aris, the parents can communicate with school staff, stay up to date on assignments and view grades. These parents now have more self-confidence and a sharpened skill set to put into use as they gear up for the new school year.



JPMorgan Chase Donates Bikes to Children’s Aid Youth

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Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase hosted a “Build-A-Bike” event to benefit 16 kids from our Dunlevy Milbank Community Center in Central Harlem. The Build-A-Bike took place at JPMorgan Chase’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan, where volunteers competed in teams to assemble 16 brand new bikes valued at $1,600. At first, the volunteers were told that they would just be assembling the bikes on their own, but all 16 children surprised the group by showing up to demonstrate their appreciation, test the bikes out and receive biking instruction from the volunteers before taking the gifts home. The group from JPMorgan was thrilled that they had the opportunity to meet the kids.

Thank you, JPMorgan Chase, for enriching the lives of our youth by enabling them to enjoy bike riding and recreation!   

To view pictures from the evening, please click here.

Time Warner Grant Awarded to I.S. 218

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Time Warner Cable (TWC) recently awarded a $3,500 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summer Challenge Grant to the summer program at I.S. 218, a Children’s Aid community school. TWC also invited a lucky group of students from the school to a 10-year anniversary celebration at the studios of NY1 Noticias, a subsidiary of TWC and the city’s only local, 24-hour all-news channel in Spanish. Youth had the chance to tour the studio, engage in exciting activities and enjoy treats.

Time Warner generously opened up this grant opportunity to middle schools who presented innovative and ambitious proposals for expanding and strengthening STEM programming for youth. A huge thank-you goes out to Time Warner Cable and NY1 Noticias for supporting quality youth programming and opening their doors to children from our community schools.

Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) is a five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which puts our children at risk of not competing successfully in a global economy.

Summer Campers Dream Big with Justice Sotomayor

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Last week, about 50 second and third graders from the Children’s Aid Summer Camp at C. S. 211 shared a day of fun, learning and inspiration with U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor.

They were part of the Bronx Children’s Museum’s “Dream Big for our Rivers” Environmental Day at Fordham University, which concluded the museum’s annual Dream Big program. Now in its fourth year, Dream Big is a four- to six-week summer arts enrichment program for elementary-aged children at local schools and community-based organizations.

Teaming up with Justice Sotomayor was guest artist Cáthia, one of the top 16 singers in season four of NBC’s popular music contest, “The Voice.” A talented 19-year-old Bronx native, Cáthia has performed at Carnegie Hall and the famed Apollo Theater. The children went crazy when she sang to them. 

In spite of the sweltering temperature, Judge Sotomayor proved to be not only inspirational but also a very engaging and fun reader, delighting the children with her reading of a “refreshing” book about freshwater trout.

The morning activities and workshops were hands-on and engaging. Kids got to observe and touch different kinds of worms and learned about their role in the cycle of nature. They also heard about the Bronx River’s role in the local ecosystem, and got to paint a colorful mural inspired by the mighty river.

With the help of these special guests, the event was a huge success, helping the program meet its goal to “inspire children to dream big, work hard, follow their passions and become caretakers of their world.”

Celebrating a Head Start on Learning

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Family, friends and staff looked on with pride as their children paraded into the decorated gym at the P.S. 152 Dyckman Valley School this past Tuesday for the school’s very first Head Start “Moving Up” ceremony. For these youngsters, who started the program as 3-year-olds and had never spent time away from their caregivers, moving up signifies so much growth in their development. They commemorated a year full of new books, skills, teachers and friends.

The Early Childhood program at P.S. 152, a Children’s Aid community school in Washington Heights, is still very much in its early years. The program expanded its presence in this community in 2011 with the implementation of Early Head Start at the school.  It later broadened its client base with the addition of Head Start in 2012 thanks to funding through ACS. “This year has been a dream realized,” said the school’s principal, Julia Pietri, of the first Head Start group at P.S. 152. Early Childhood services are also offered at community schools P.S. 5 and P.S. 8 in Washington Heights.

The Early Childhood program at The Children’s Aid Society strives to develop a lifelong love of learning in our communities youngest children beginning at birth. Its comprehensive approach focuses on meeting a child’s social, emotional, physical and developmental needs and improving parental engagement inside and outside the classroom.

Grand Opening Held for the Manhattan Preventive Services Center

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Our newest facility, the two-floor, newly renovated Manhattan Preventive Services Center, celebrated its opening with an official ribbon cutting ceremony on June 14. Many Children’s Aid staff members as well as Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr., Deputy ACS Commissioner Jacqueline McKnight and a representative from Councilwoman Inez Dickens’ office attended the event, celebrating the opening and viewing the space of our new Manhattan home for the 32-year-old Preventive Services Program.

The Preventive Services Program at The Children’s Aid Society provides a comprehensive array of family-focused and home-based intervention services, aimed at strengthening families and alleviating stressors for children. Key components include:

•Individual, family and group counseling

•Teen and parenting groups

•Parenting guidance

•Case management services


We are also proud to share that Preventive Services has received high praise from the ACS and a renewed city contract for the next 10 years, allowing us to continue our high-quality family support services for communities in Upper Manhattan.

AAMI Hosts “The Central Park Five” Screening, Panel Discussion

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On Tuesday night, several dozen young men who are part of Children’s Aid’s African American Male Initiative (AAMI) attended a screening of the 2012 Ken Burns documentary, “The Central Park Five.”  The documentary recounts the wrongful conviction of five black and Latino teenagers for the brutal attack and rape of a female Central Park jogger in 1989.

Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, two of the five accused as young men, joined the AAMI participants for the screening and later offered their reflections on the film, discussing the various racial and social issues depicted in it. Mr. Salaam and Mr. Wise, now in their 40s, spoke about their tribulations before, during and after their prison sentences and how they have managed to stay positive and hopeful.

The young men from AAMI, most the same age as the Central Park Five at the time of their convictions, were able to connect on many levels with Mr. Salaam and Mr. Wise as they could image what they stand to lose if ever in the same situation. The youth learned to appreciate trivial things in their lives like how much time they spend with loved ones or merely eating a home cooked meal, two things that are lost while in prison. It was inspiring for these young men to witness the resiliency of their visitors, who through forgiveness have been able to move on to productive and fulfilling lives.

The African American Male Initiative was launched in 2007 by The Children's Aid Society to help young black males receive all the support needed to become successful. Rooted in research and guided by expert advisors, the program aims to reverse persistent negative outcomes—academic, social-emotional, health and behavioral—for African American boys by intervening early in their lives and urging them to reach for excellence.

A Visit from the Chancellor

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Schools Chancellor Walcott, along with DYCD Commissioner Mullgrav, paid a visit to CS 211 this morning as part of a tour of NYC Summer Quest sites. Together, the group practiced with the marching band, observed a cooking demonstration and paid a visit to the chicken coop outside 211.

Summer Quest is a free, five-week, full-day summer learning program that provides elementary and middle school students with fun, hands-on enrichment experiences while strengthening their academic skills. DOE teachers collaborate with educators from community-based organizations to offer students Common-Core aligned instruction, enrichment activities, sports and recreation, and field trips.

The program’s aim is to help promote equity in learning for all students, infusing the best practices of academic preparation and enrichment with the fun of summer camp. In the program’s first year, NYC Summer Quest served over 1,120 students in the South Bronx across 11 sites.