The Children's Aid Blog

Three Ways To Celebrate Presidents' Day With Your Kids

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In 1971, the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both in February, were combined into Presidents' Day which is celebrated on the third Monday of the month. Coinciding with Presidents' Day is the mid-winter recess. New York City children are out of school from February 21st thru the 27th. Don’t let the stubborn cold air keep your family from enjoying all the entertaining and educational activities throughout the city. Here are a few ways for your child to get the most out of their break:

Children's Aid Cares for Your Child's Smile

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The American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month every February to raise awareness on the importance of good oral hygiene. It is essential to teach children at an early age that brushing and flossing, along with regular dental visits, will keep their teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime.

The Children's Aid Society's dental clinics are based in our community schools and centers and provide quality dental care to children in New York City's underserved neighborhoods. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention children and adolescents from lower-income families have more untreated tooth decay.

Children’s Aid Dental Services are designed to provide primary care such as:

  • Examinations
  • Restorative care (such as dental fillings)
  • Prophylaxis (dental cleaning)
  • Fluoride treatment and sealants
  • Referrals

Depending on where a patient lives, additional care is provided by the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center or St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Children's Aid, in partnership with the Orthodontic Program at St. Barnabas Hospital, in November 2006, added a school-based Orthodontic Clinic to its roster of dental services.

CAS-Carrera, Cupid and Careers at ASE

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Love – and the art of the deal -- is in the air at the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship (ASE), where industrious participants in The Children’s Aid Society's Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) have launched a small business through “Job Club.”

Every day, ASE students in Grades 6-10 participate in Job Club, which is designed to introduce young people to the “world of work” and the array of career opportunities available, including an emphasis on the “green” industry and its tremendous potential for growth when students enter the full-time workforce. In activities led by a certified teacher, CAS-Carrera participants improve their financial literacy, hone their entrepreneurial skills, and develop life-long, positive financial decision-making.

A crucial part of Job Club is opening and maintaining an individual savings account for each young person. This year, nearly 770 CAS-Carrera participants in New York City will receive a stipend for their classroom and project-based learning sessions with one condition: that the monthly check each young person receives from CAS will be deposited in his or her bank account. These stipends are funded through individual donors.

This winter, ASE participants prepared gift baskets that contained scented, hand-crafted, soy-based candles and chocolates festooned with a heart-shaped balloon. And before putting the product out to market, the young people presented their business plan to program founder Dr. Michael A. Carrera (pictured at left), who discussed with them their practices related to research and development, business plan creation, purchasing, production, marketing and advertising, pricing strategies and order fulfillment. His recommendation: reinvest any profits realized back into their savings accounts.

According to Dr. Carrera, the gift basket sale “is illustrative of Job Club’s efforts to ensure that young people understand entrepreneurism, learn the importance of savings, and increase awareness of careers. The component’s long-term objective is that young people attend and complete college, and mature into taxpayers, not tax burdens.”

If you would like to support CAS-Carrera and Job Club, please click here.

New York Times Neediest Cases Fund and Children's Aid Help Families In Need

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The end of January marked the close of The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund’s 99th Campaign. The New York Times highlighted stories of families that were helped by the fund through the seven beneficiary agencies. Assistance from The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is used to help families meet an immediate need such as paying for food, school uniforms, winter clothing or to avoid eviction due to rent arrears. This fundraising campaign has raised more than $8 million annually thanks to the generous donations of its readers.

The Office of Public Policy and Client Advocacy (OPCCA) at The Children’s Aid Society, one of the seven beneficiary agencies of The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, screens requests from needy families and checks their eligibility for public benefits and other subsidies as well as provides legal advice and referrals during eviction proceedings. Thousands of families have benefited from OPPCA's work with The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

The Children’s Aid Society has been able to tap into the fund to help many families get through tough times due to job loss or illness. Here are a few cases that were highlighted this season by The New York Times:

One Woman Makes a Home for Many

Losing Wife, Man Becomes Cook and Caretaker to His Sons

Long Living Countries Apart Now Under One Roof

An Orphan in Her Teens, Determined to Get an Education

Click here to access a complete list of the this season's articles featuring The Children's Aid Society. Though the giving season has come to an end, please consider making a donation to The Children’s Aid Society to continue helping New York City’s neediest families.

TransCanada Supports Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

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For youngsters who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH), it can be especially challenging to develop relationships with their peers and engage in social activities, but the experience of communicating and connecting is an important part of countering feelings of social isolation. It is important for every child to engage in social and recreational activities with peers to help him or her develop a sense of self-worth and belonging.

The Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens  held at The Children’s Aid Society’s Rhinelander Center  is the only free, weekend recreational program for Deaf young people in New York City. The Saturday Program was established in 1989, after a comprehensive city-wide youth needs assessment found that there were no weekend programs for Deaf children or teens in NYC.

This program relies on support from caring donors to continue to provide these services. TransCanada, a company focused on natural gas transmission and power services, has generously donated $20,000 to help the Saturday Program reach its goals of improving communication skills, building self-confidence, enhancing social skills and promoting community involvement among Deaf young people in NYC.

On Saturday, January 22, 2011 Anthony Schonfarber, Director of TransCanada’s Ravenswood Generating Facility in Long Island City, and Sharon Scott, Community Relations Coordinator visited the program. Youth played board games with staff members as they waited for a bus to whisk them off to a special visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, while the parents of the participants gathered to discuss high school and college educational options for the Deaf in and near New York City. “TransCanada and the Ravenswood Generating Station are proud to have the opportunity to support such a worth cause,” explains Schonfarber. “The Children’s Aid Society Saturday Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Teens is so very important to the participating young people. It gives the kids a chance to spend time in a safe and comfortable environment, learning life skills that will help them to realize their full potential. This is a key aspect of TransCanada’s Community Investment Program…partner with the community to improve quality of life, create hope, and establish new beginnings.”

The TransCanada donation will cover the costs of recreational and cultural trips for the rest of the year. “We offer a variety of trips and activities which are so important for the young people in our program,” commented Rhinelander’s Director, Laura Colin Klein. “They don’t get to go bowling, camping or to the theater on the weekends since their families often can’t afford these activities. And, even if they could, they would not have deaf friends with them. Our participants gain a broader sense of the world, a network of friends who share their challenges and they have a lot of fun.”

Celebrate National Black History Month With Your Children

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February is National Black History Month, a time to learn about and reflect upon African American history and culture. The 2011 National Black History Month theme is African Americans and the Civil War. The following events are among the many family-oriented activities going on throughout New York City:

  • The Schomburg Center Public Education Program presents the Black History Month Youth Film Series. The series will take place between February 14 - 18 with a different film shown each day at 10AM.
  • Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens. Check out the house where the legendary musician lived from 1943 until his death. Children under 4 get in free. As part of its Black History Month celebration, the Museum will present "Louis Armstrong and Race" on February 12th and 26th at 1 and 3pm.
  • The Brooklyn Children's Museum is currently showing "Tales from the Land of Gullah" an exhibit about the Gullah people of West Africa who were enslaved during the 17th century. Visitors will learn about their culture and the contributions they made to America.

Be sure to check back for more coverage of National Black History Month 2011 on the Children's Aid Blog!

Children's Aid Youth Take Part in Street Law Program

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In its fourth year, The New York Law School brings the Street Law program to The Children’s Aid Society’s Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem. According to their web site, Street Law "began in 1972, when a small group of Georgetown University Law Center students developed an experimental curriculum designed to teach District of Columbia high school students about practical aspects of the law and the legal system." Since then, Street Law, Inc. has expanded into an international organization that develops educational programs in over 30 countries.

The curriculum at Hope Leadership Academy consists of 10 interactive lessons that will teach students about the 4th Amendment (Search and Seizure). Participants, along with the guidance of their New York Law School student trainers, will develop arguments on 4th Amendment situations to be presented during a moot court at the end of their program.

A key program goal is to create a positive attitude towards the legal system and to teach participants how to protect their individual rights. Thanks to these New York Law School students, Hope Leadership Academy participants will also gain much needed practice in critical thinking and problem solving skills, tools necessary as they move onto college and adulthood. Perhaps some will even be inspired to pursue a career in law!

The Children's Aid Society Announces New Healthy Beverage Policy

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According to the New York City Department of Health’s Take Care New York 2012 action plan, Americans consume about 250 more calories per day than they did 30 years ago: about half of these calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks. The Children’s Aid Society is working towards breaking that trend with its new beverage policy set to take effect on March 1st, 2011. All Children’s Aid staff and clients are joining the fight against unhealthy eating by cutting their consumption of flavored milk, sodas and sports drinks. This is just another step in the agency’s overall mission to educate the communities we serve about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

The new beverage guidelines that will apply to all sites are as follows:

  • Tap water will be made readily available to all
  • Children under the age of 2 years old will be given whole milk and for those 3-5 years old, 1% milk (or milk substitute for lactose intolerant children), If 100% juice is served, dilute it by half with water
  • Children over the age of 5 years old are only allowed water, seltzer, 1% milk (or milk substitute for lactose intolerant children), and 100% juice.
  • Allowable alternatives are homemade fruit smoothies and homemade “soda” (seltzer water + 100% fruit juice)
  • Adults are allowed water or seltzer, milk, 100% juice, coffee or tea

Children learn by example and Children’s Aid staff strives to promote healthy lifestyle choices in all areas of programming. Our Go!Healthy Initiative directly aims to alter the habits of young people through a variety of fun and informative activities. Stefania Patinella, Director of Food & Nutrition Programs at Children's Aid, describes the initiative as follows:

“Our programs give families the tools to make informed decisions about what they eat and drink so they can be “conscious consumers.” In one activity, youth are astonished when they measure how much sugar is in their foods and beverages, like sodas, juice drinks and cereals. In another, they learn about the marketing tricks companies use to convince consumers that products are healthy when they’re not—such as pictures of fruit or words such as “natural.” Parents and youth alike learn what too much sugar means for their health, mood, and concentration, as well as its relationship to Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is devastating many low-income families and communities. Of course, to keep every class positive and fun, we include hands-on cooking activities that empower children and parents to make healthy, homemade meals part of their daily lives. With every meal, we serve water…and for special occasions, homemade “soda”: equal parts seltzer and 100% fruit juice, with fresh fruit as a garnish!”

Children’s Aid School Based Health Centers Get Their Report Cards

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The reports are in! School Based Health Centers (SBHC) are considered by experts as one of the most effective and efficient ways to provide preventive health care. Children can receive medical, dental and mental health care right inside their school, resulting in fewer absences. Parents can feel confident that their child will be taken care of and that they do not need to miss a day of work, a great financial burden for most families using Children’s Aid Society services.

The Children’s Aid Society operates five SBHCs in our Community Schools in Harlem and Washington Heights. Important 2009-2010 School Based Health Center Facts:

  • With 85% enrollment, Children’s Aid Society School Based Health Centers exceeded the New York State Department of Health enrollment requirement of 75%
  • 1,595 H1N1 vaccines in this year
  • 2,306 free vision screenings were provided

View all the Report Cards for School Year 2009-2010.

The Children’s Aid Society Raises Readers

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To kick off the New Year, The Children's Aid Society's Early Head Start expansion team became Raising a Reader affiliates. Raising a Reader is a national non-profit early literacy program that promotes daily “book cuddling” between children and their parents. Through these shared story experiences children develop a love of reading critical to school success. Over 20 evaluations of Raising a Reader have shown that the program has a significant positive effect on children’s early literacy skills, parent bonding and kindergarten readiness.

The program is simple. Raising a Reader rotates a set of bright red bags filled with award-winning children’s books into the homes of families on a weekly basis. On January 13th, Raising a Reader staff trained our Early Head Start family workers on how to implement and coordinate the program. Trainers also worked with staff in how to support parents in interactive reading techniques. Other tips (taken from the Raising a Reader Website) on how to make sharing books with your child a great experience includes:

Infants

  • Snuggle up with your baby! The baby will feel secure from being close and hearing your voice.
  • It is ok to let your baby touch and hold the book.
  • Choose books with simple, clear pictures. Babies like faces and bold, high contrast pictures.
  • Rhymes, songs and simple soothing text appeal to babies.

Toddlers

  • Toddlers love book sharing—even if they do not sit still for long.
  • Choose books that are predictable, repetitive, or encourage sound/movement.
  • Encourage your toddler to make sounds and movement to describe the story!
  • Toddlers take comfort in routine and repetition. Try to find a consistent time and/or place to share books.

Preschoolers

  • Offer a variety of books! Include counting books, alphabet books, and animal books.
  • Your preschooler may want to ‘read’ to you—that’s great! Let them read (or tell) the story.
  • Preschoolers love stories about friends and family.

You can learn more about Raising a Reader at: http://www.raisingareader.org/