The Children's Aid Blog

November is National Adoption Month

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November is National Adoption Month. This year’s campaign targets the 115,000 children currently in foster care who are awaiting a safe and nurturing home. 

“I call upon all Americans to observe this month by answering the call to find homes for every child in America in need of a permanent and caring family, as well as to support the families who care for them,” said President Barack Obama in his Presidential Proclamation. He also announced that the 11th Annual National Adoption Day will be celebrated on Saturday, November 20th, which gives the courts the opportunity to open their doors to finalize the adoptions of children in foster care.

At The Children’s Aid Society, the 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. Today, Children's Aid finds homes for more than 500 children each year. Children’s Aid ensures that these temporary homes are safe and nurturing by training foster parents and supervising the families while the children are in their care. But because what is most important is that children find a permanent home either with an adoptive family or their birthparents, our work focuses on providing tremendous support to the children, their foster parents and their birthparents.

National Adoption Month is a coordinated effort between the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau, Child Welfare Information Gatewayand AdoptUsKids.

Image via http://www.fsmetroorlando.org/Learn/FosterCareandAdoption/tabid/67/Default.aspx

Children’s Aid Families March to State Office Building in Support of Afterschool Programs

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Approximately 200 children and their families marched from The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Center to the State Office Building Plaza in Harlem as part of the nationwide Lights On Afterschool celebration on Thursday, October 21, 2010. Once there, parents, children and Children’s Aid staff delivered testimony and presented letters to Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Senator Bill Perkins and Assemblymember Keith L. T. Wright.

Lights On Afterschool, now in its 11th year, is designed to highlight the importance of afterschool programs that keep children safe, educated and entertained in the hours after school. One-million Americans will be participating in 7,500 Lights On Afterschool events across the country.

Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center promotes the holistic development of students in afterschool activities ranging from educational enhancement, homework assistance, dance, arts and crafts, sports and nutrition. Dunlevy Milbank is one of twelve Children’s Aid Society sites celebrating afterschool programming during Lights On Afterschool.

Here is how other sites celebrated:

Manhattan Center for Science and Math High School held a lunchtime rally where over 200 students discussed the need for afterschool. A petition was signed and a mural was also created that expresses the shared thoughts and feelings regarding afterschool programs.

 

 

20 students at the Rhinelander Children’s Center helped to create a poster that was sent out to funders, government officials and about 600 Rhinelander families electronically. The children discussed why they think having a good after school program is important and the poster is in their words.

East Harlem Center Celebrates National Day for Kids With A Healthy Meal Thanks to Wal-Mart

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Every year The Boys & Girls Clubs of America sets aside one day to celebrate and honor children by having the significant adults in their lives spend meaningful time with them. It's about celebrating kids -- children, grandchildren or any child in need of mentoring.

On September 30th, the Children’s Aid’s East Harlem Center Boys & Girls Club celebrated Day For Kids by inviting parents to spend the afternoon playing games with their children. As the youth celebrated, they did so with nutritious food courtesy of a Wal-Mart Summer Food Program grant. Four Children’s Aid Society community centers and schools in East Harlem, Harlem and Washington Heights were recipients of a Wal-Mart Summer Food Program grant, which provided funding over the last three months for nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain crackers, as well as awareness of healthy eating habits.

The goal of Day for Kids is to inform and encourage adults that spending time with children, time that is rich in activity and focus, helps children in many aspects of life. It also reminds parents that self-reflection is necessary as parents and caregivers in order to improve relationships with kids.

NY State Senator Rubén Diaz Honored at The Children’s Aid Society in the Bronx

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On October 6, New York State Senator Rubén Diaz was honored for his support of the audio/video room at The Children’s Aid Society Next Generation Center in the South Bronx. Thanks to Senator Diaz’s assistance, the center, which serves neighborhood teens, as well as those aging out of foster care, now features a state-of-the-art A/V room designed to build young people’s creative and technical skills. William Weisberg, The Children’s Aid Society’s Chief Operating Officer, described Senator Diaz as a “champion of young people.” 

Cutting the ribbon at The Children’s Aid Society Next Generation Center are (left to right) Cordale Manning, 18; New York State Assembly Member Marcos Crespo; Karon Porter, Technology Coordinator; New York State Senator Rubén Diaz; Fateem Smith, 16.

Children’s Aid Wants You To Be Safe This Halloween

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You might see ghosts and you might see goblins but these scary costumes may not be the only thing causing a fright this Halloween. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of deaths among child pedestrians ages 5 to 14 is four times as many on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year. At The Children’s Aid Society we want all children and their families to be extra cautious this Halloween. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released “Lucky 13” Tips for a Safe Halloween with important information on the risks and how to stay safe this weekend.

For a Safe and Fun Halloween, remember:

  1. Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you’ll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren’t so long that you’re in danger of tripping.
  2. Don’t eat candy until it has been inspected at home.
  3. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  4. Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won’t be tempted to nibble on treats that haven’t been inspected.
  5. Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.
  6. Check FDA’s list of color additives to see if additives in your makeup are FDA approved. If they aren’t approved for their intended use, don’t use it.
  7. Don’t wear decorative contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional and gotten a proper lens fitting and instructions for using the lenses.
  8. Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.

Lynne Echenberg Honored by Stanford Law School

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Lynne Echenberg, the director of Children’s Aid’s Next Generation Center in the Bronx, is this year’s recipient of the Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award, given by Stanford Law School’s John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law. The honor is bestowed upon an alumnus/a, who has engaged in public service and had a significant impact on the community, national or international level.

Echenberg was selected for her impressive accomplishments advocating for foster children and other youth. As a student at Stanford, she worked to improve public interest programs for the entire student body.  

Lynne has worked in the child welfare field for over a decade, always advocating and fighting for the rights of underserved youth, especially those involved in the foster care system.  At the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, she served as Special Assistant to Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, for whom she helped plan and implement comprehensive, neighborhood-based reforms for the agency.

At Children’s Aid, Echenberg helped plan, create - and now directs - the Next Generation Center, a multi-service program that provides support, guidance, training and opportunities for young people ages 14-24, with a special focus on youth aging out of foster care and other disconnected youth.

Well-deserved acknowledgments were also given on BusinessWire.com.

Domestic Violence – Part 4: How Can You Help

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If you know someone who you think is being abused by their spouse or partner, here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Let them know you are worried about them and want to help. Don't tell them what to do or try to take control of the situation.
  2. Don't blame the victim, imply they did something to 'bring it on,' or tell them they are stupid for staying.  It's hard to understand why people stay in abusive relationships - some common reasons are love, belief the abuse will change, self-blame, and fear that the abuse will get worse if they try to break it off.  But the worst thing you can do if you want to help is to reinforce the idea that they are to blame.
  3. Help them to reduce isolation. Abusers often cut their victims off from friends and family members. Tell them you'll be there for them whether they decide to stay in the relationship or not.
  4. Connect them with a domestic violence advocate who can help them develop a safety plan. Call one of the numbers below to find out what resources are available in your area.

Finally, if you know someone who's being abusive, do not look the other way. Calmly express your concerns about the specific behavior that you see as abusive and make it clear that you do not believe there is any excuse for abusing another person. Suggest that they get help in order to change their behavior, and tell them you will support them in their efforts to change, but will not support abusive behavior. Do not accept excuses, justifications, “laughing it off” or victim-blaming. Call one of the numbers below to find out how to get help for the abusive person.

How to get help:

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)

Photo via www.mysistersplaceny.org
 

New Memorial Foundation for Popular Radio Personality Makes Donation to Children’s Aid in the Bronx

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The newly created Erika Roman Memorial Foundation made its first donation to The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center for services for youth in or aging out of foster care on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Erika Roman, a popular Latina radio personality in Orlando, was born and raised in New York City. She spent time in the foster care system as a child and remained a role model to other foster children through mentoring.  Tragically, Erika passed away in 2009 at the age of 33. In an effort to continue her work with children in the foster care system, the Erika Roman Memorial Foundation was created.

The evening featured a plaque dedication and a check presentation.  Senior executives from the Erika Roman Memorial Foundation also had the chance to meet with 40 teens who participate in programming at the Next Generation Center. The evening’s food and refreshments were provided by the NGC Caterers, a group of teens from the Center who formed a professional catering company specializing in healthful, innovative cuisine.

Knicks Superstar Amar’e Stoudemire Spends the Day at Children’s Aid!

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The kids were all smiles and screams as Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks handed out school supplies at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Centers in Harlem.

On the afternoon of September 13th, Amar’e spent the earlier part of the day visiting the Frederick Douglass Center before boarding a school bus heading to Dunlevy Milbank. There, students, ages 8-14, gathered in the center’s gym where he personally handed them a back-pack PACKED with school supplies courtesy of the Garden of Dreams and WB Mason. On hand to hype up the crowd was MSG Network’s Gus Johnson and the Knicks City Dancers.

Stoudemire was not the only one handing out gifts! Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, and Casper Lassiter, Director of the Dunlevy Milbank Center, presented Amar’e with his very own Milbank Flyers T-shirt. The center’s boys’ basketball team placed fourth in a national competition this summer. 

Before handing out the bags of school supplies, the newest Knicks’ superstar addressed the crowded gym, where he reminded everyone that education is the key to future success.

Domestic Violence – Part 3: The Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

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While every relationship is different, survivors of domestic violence have identified common characteristics and behaviors of abusive partners.  Knowing the warning signs can help you to avoid abusive relationships or identify abuse and get help for yourself or a friend/family member sooner. If you recognize any of the warning signs below, consider calling the Family Wellness Program or one of the hotlines listed at the bottom of this page.

1. Extreme jealousy – when one partner wants to know who the other is with and what they are doing at all times, is extremely possessive, accuses them of cheating with no reason. 

2. Isolation – when one partner wants the other all to him/her self, tries to cut them off from friends, family, and activities – might even insist they quit their job or school.

3.  Controlling behavior – when one partner tries to control the other by telling them what to do, how to dress, who to hang out with – or manipulates them into doing what they want.

4.  Fast-moving relationship – when a partner who comes on very strong, is an extreme “smooth talker” and wants make major commitments very early in the relationship.

5.  Blaming – when one partner always seems to blame the other for his/her own behavior – “You made me do this.”

6.  History of abusive behavior – if someone has ever been abusive to a current or ex partner, a child or an animal; it is unlikely they will change without help.

7. Moodiness – someone with a “Jekyll and Hyde” personality.

8. Put-downs – when one partner is constantly criticizing the other, putting them down and making them feel badly about themselves.

9. Entitlement – when someone believes they are entitled to be in charge or be catered to, whether because of gender or other reasons.

10. Intimidation and threats - when one partner uses threats or intimidating body language, punches walls or breaks things to intimidate the other.

How to get help:

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)