The Children's Aid Blog

Children's Aid Announces Summer Recipe Contest

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Are you a pro in the kitchen or out on the grill? Can you whip up a quick, easy and healthy meal on the fly? The Children’s Aid Society has launched its first ever Children’s Aid Summer Recipe Contest. All submissions for original and healthy recipes are being accepted now on our Facebook page through July 18th. Ten recipes will be selected by a panel of All-Star judges, including Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex, authors of NO WHINE WITH DINNER: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (mealmakeovermoms.com), Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, Executive Pastry Chef at PRINT, Julie Negrin, M.S.-Certified nutritionist, cooking instructor and author of Easy Meals to Cook with Kids, and Erica Wides, Chef and Culinary Instructor and Heritage Foods USA spokeschef and resident culinary educator.

But it will be up to the public to vote for the top five Grand Prize winners from July 21st-28th.

The contest will come to a close on Friday, July 29th at the Union Square Greenmarket where the Grand Prize winners will be announced. The top five recipes will receive gift certificates to the exclusive Four Seasons Restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, PRINT. Restaurant, al di la Trattoria and Mae Mae Cafe in New York City. Enter today for your chance to win!

Children's Aid First to Receive 11th Consecutive 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator

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The Children’s Aid Society is thrilled to be the first organization to earn an 11th consecutive 4-star rating from Charity Navigator! For over 150 years, our organization has worked tirelessly on behalf of New York City’s underserved children and families. At the same time we strive to maintain the fiscal integrity which our donors have come to expect.

“We are delighted that Charity Navigator has evaluated Children’s Aid and found it ‘exceptional’ for the 11th consecutive year," said our President and CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. “Charity Navigator provides assurance and guidance that Children’s Aid is fiscally responsible and financially healthy, which is particularly important during these uncertain financial times.”

Our donors have told us that Charity Navigator has given them the confidence to invest in The Children's Aid Society. It is that confidence that will ultimately enable us to serve the children of New York City for the next 150 years!

Richard Buery, Children’s Aid Society President and CEO, Addresses New York City Budget

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NEW YORK, June 29, 2011 – “The Mayor and Speaker Quinn should be commended for working hard to restore proposed budget cuts to critically important programs for children and families – particularly the restorations to the childcare system. However, more than $13 million has still been cut from the Out of School Time after school system and millions more from other youth programs, meaning that thousands of New York children will lose access to safe and supportive out of school environments. Any budget is a value statement – a reflection of what we hold near and dear to our hearts and what we feel is expendable and not expendable. Unfortunately, throughout the negotiation process there was never serious consideration of revenue-generating proposals like progressive new income taxes on the wealthiest – leaving low-income and middle income New Yorkers to bear the brunt of the burden. To pass a budget that truly reflects all of New York, every New Yorker must contribute, not just the most vulnerable."

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: True Education Reform: Community Schools And Collective Impact

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"Evidence shows that education reform can be achieved only by truly reforming the current education system. The current silos that exist among the agencies and organizations responsible for the healthy development and education of American youth hinder true progress and reform."

A recent article in the prestigious Stanford Social Innovation Review assessed the merits of a change strategy known as "collective impact," which the authors (John Kania and Mark Kramer) describe as "the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem." Of particular interest to Kania and Kramer is the issue of education, which they describe as having "thwarted attempted reforms for decades," often because individualized interventions -- operated in silos -- were not powerful enough to move the achievement needle. The authors recognize that fixing one point on the educational continuum won't make much of a difference unless all parts of the continuum improve at the same time.

Read Complete Article on The Huffington Post

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Children's Aid Youth and Parents Rally to Save After-School Programs

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By: Keyla Espinal

On Thursday June 16th, hundreds of children, parents and youth services employees gathered outside the offices of Mayor Bloomberg in hopes that he would hear their chants of “After-school, yes, budget cuts, no!” Members of The Children’s Aid Society, NYC Youth Alliance and the Coalition for Out-of-School Time marched towards City Hall to rally against the proposed budget cuts to youth programs and services. Youth from all five boroughs, many of whom take part in Out-of-School Time programming such as after-school, Beacon and summer youth employment programs, expressed how important these services are in providing enriching opportunities for young people and helping working parents stay employed.

Representing The Children’s Aid Society were parents and youth from the East Harlem Center, Goodhue Center and the Dunlevy Milbank Center. Several parents took to the podium to address the crowd and talk about how these programs give their children a safe and engaging place to go between the time school gets out and the end of the work day. Also showing their support and speaking out on behalf of all youth services were New York City Council Members Gale A. Brewer and Jumaane D. Williams.

The rally’s main goal was to let City Council Members and the Mayor know that youth programs are vital to the future of all children in New York City.

Please visit our Take Action Page to learn how you can contact the Mayor and City Council to demand that the cuts be restored before the June 30th budget deadline.

Photos: Giany Mejia

Children’s Aid Community School Honored with Excellence in School Wellness Award

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By: Stefania Patinella

This month, P.S. 152 – The Dyckman Valley School, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, was awarded an Excellence in School Wellness Award by The New York City Strategic Alliance for Health (NYCSAfH). On June 21st, NYCSAfH will honor the 2011 award recipients at a special ceremony hosted by elected officials.

P.S. 152 is a model of a school in which a culture of wellness can take root by engaging the community. This year, responding to the community need, Children’s Aid offered students the Go!Healthy parent cooking and nutrition program, a new gardening program and a Go!Chefs kids cooking and nutrition education program. In addition, young chefs from P.S. 152 were the elementary division winners of the 2011 Iron Go!Chefs kids cooking competition! The Children’s Aid Society is proud to be recognized for its efforts in promoting healthy eating and wellness.

Photo: The Children's Aid Society

Children’s Aid Youth Stand Up for After-School Programs, Present Petitions to Council Member Jackson

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Photos and Text by Keyla Espinal

On June 8th, in recognition of the New York City Youth Alliance and The Coalition for Out-of-School Time's "Last Symbolic Day of After-School," students from the Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, paid a visit to Council Member Robert Jackson's district office. Their visit was part of a larger advocacy mission to save after-school programming. Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are currently negotiating the budget, which proposes to cut $23 million in Out-of-School-Time (OST) funding. Such drastic reductions would eliminate 16,000 after-school slots.

Children's Aid students presented signed petitions to Ms. Susan M. Russell, Chief of Operations and General Counsel and Ms. Shellie Williams, Scheduler for Councilmember Jackson. The youth also shared their feelings about their after-school program and the positive changes it has had on their lives. The cooking club, a component of Mirabal Sisters Campus after-school program, is an example of how this very important service is providing students with critical life skills for adulthood and possibly even a career in the culinary arts.

The visit to Council Member Jackson’s office is part of a larger movement that the Coalition has had in place for months now. Students from all around the New York City who take part in Out-of-School Time programming such as after-school and Beacon, are going to their local Council Member's office to drop off petitions, show the importance of afterschool programs and thank those council members who have been tireless OST advocates and supporters.

After-school programs provide enriching opportunities for young people and help working families. Please visit our Take Action Page to learn how you can contact the Mayor and City Council to demand that the cuts be restored before the June 30th budget deadline.

Empowering Parents for 25 Years

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On Friday, June 3rd, the The Children's Aid Society Parent Family Life & Sexuality Education program (PFLSE) held its 25th graduation ceremony at Hunter College. This year's class was comprised of 125 parents who, after taking the course, are better able to talk to their children about pregnancy prevention and overall sexual health. Realizing the importance of sexual education in their children’s development and their own roles as primary sexual educators, PFLSE parents attend a five month long workshop to improve their sexual literacy and their communication skills with family members.

“I think that now what we should do is talk to our communities, our families and our relatives and tell them to take this class” said Susana Ramos, a parent from The Dyckman Valley School, a Children’s Aid Community School, who also admits that she will sneak into the next class even though she has graduated from the program. Elizabeth Mariano whose daughter attends The Bronx Preparatory Charter School said that she had considered herself a hip parent “of the now,” but learned much more about herself and her community after attending the workshop. The program also provides parents with the opportunity to examine their own experiences with sexual education and empowers them with the tools necessary to prevent their children from becoming parents earlier in life.

Congratulations to all the staff and graduating parents who are committed to appropriately educating and informing today’s youth about the often awkward subject that is sexuality!

It's not too late to save childcare and early childhood education

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Despite the scorching heat, a large group of advocates, children and parents delivered 30,000 petitions to New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to save childcare and early childhood education (view the photo gallery here). City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diana Reyna and Margaret Chin each spoke out against the proposed budget cuts. Thank you to our supporters too, who helped Children’s Aid contribute over 2,300 signatures!

But we’re not done fighting yet.  City budget negotiations are happening right now. The Coalition to Save Childcare is staging a call-in today and Friday to key city officials.  It only takes a minute – and we’ve provided all the details here, including the names of the officials, their numbers and a short script of what you can say. 

Call-in days are Thursday, June 9, 2011 and Friday, June 10, 2011.

Call Speaker Quinn at (212) 564-7757 and tell her to make sure child care is funded in the final budget.

Call the Mayor’s Budget Director, Mark Page, at (212) 788-5900 and tell him child care must be saved.

Call the Deputy Mayor, Howard Wolfson, at (212) 788-3070 and tell him child care must be saved.

Use this script as a guide for your call:

Hi, my name's ________. I'm calling to urge ________ to Save Child Care.

These cuts would mean hundreds of early childhood classrooms will be closed and fewer working families will be able to find safe, affordable child care. Without child care, working parents like me will not be able to keep our jobs and our children will lose their opportunity for a quality early education. We’re counting on you to restore the funding to save child care. Thank you.

Let us know you completed your call and how it went so we can make sure we hit our goal of 500 calls. Email the coalition at savechildcare@gmail.com.

For more information visit: www.savechildcare.com.

Click play below to watch talk Melissa Mark-Viverito about saving afterschool.

City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito Calls to Save After-School from The After-School Corporation on Vimeo.

East Harlem Center Artists Share Their Visions of New York City

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Thanks to a gracious invitation by UBS, youth at The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center had the opportunity to participate in New York City: Through Our Eyes, an art exhibit commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. For this special exhibit, the children created drawings of city skyscrapers which were featured alongside the work of the professional artist Stephen Wiltshire. Mr. Wiltshire contributed a sketched depiction of the entire New York City skyline, drawn from memory after having taken a helicopter ride around the city.

Prior to the art exhibit, Mr. Wiltshire paid a visit to the East Harlem Center where he worked with our own young aspiring artists. As part of his visit, the children observed and drew along with the artist as he sketched one of his favorite New York City buildings – the Empire State Building.

New York City: Through Our Eyes highlights the vitality of New York City. In addition to Stephen Wiltshire's drawing and works created by Children's Aid students, the exhibit included photos from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and artwork created by participants of the Harlem School of the Arts and the YMCA of Greater New York.

Photos courtesy of Cathleen Miles and www.andrew-sullivan.com