The Children's Aid Blog

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/

Children's Aid Celebrates National Oatmeal Month

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Oatmeal

photograph by Kristin Brenemen on Flickr

Get your bowls ready because January is National Oatmeal Month! There are many health benefits to eating oatmeal, including lowering blood cholesterol and promoting weight loss - it’s a good supply of energy. Here is a delicious oatmeal recipe by Stefania Patinella, Director of the Food & Nutrition Programs at The Children’s Aid Society:

MAPLE QUINOA-OATMEAL PORRIDGE

Yields: about 8 cups Makes about 20 servings for 3- to 5-year-olds
Makes about 10 servings for 6 years olds and up
This recipe fulfils the total Grains/Bread component.

Ingredients:

½ cup quinoa
6 cups water
3 cups rolled oats (about ½ pound)
1 large apple cut into small pieces
2½ cups 1% milk
¼ cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

1. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Put the quinoa in a medium saucepan and add 2 cups water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Add the rest of the water (4 cups), the oats, apple (if using) and milk and cook for 15 minutes more until the oats are soft. Stir in the maple syrup and cinnamon. Serve hot.

Variation:

BROWN SUGAR QUINOA-OATMEAL PORRIDGE
Substitute the maple syrup for ¼ cup packed light brown sugar.

Children’s Aid Welcomes Kathleen Connelly as Director of Volunteer Services

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This month, Kathleen Connelly joined The Children’s Aid Society as the new Director of Volunteer Services. She brings with her a wealth of experience working with volunteers. Before joining Children’s Aid, she served nearly four years as Director of Volunteer Programs for the Manhattan Branch of Dress for Success Worldwide. Kat, as she prefers to be called, also worked for more than 15 years as trainer and video training producer for Wayne Lachman Productions and spent several years as Community Affairs Director for KENS-TV, the CBS Affiliate in San Antonio, Texas. At KENS-TV she was responsible for all community outreach, public affairs programming, writing and delivering on-air public service programs as well as producing and directing a weekly “Crimestoppers” series.

I recently asked Kat a few more questions to get to know her better:

Q: What are your top priorities for the Volunteer Services Department in 2011?

A: My top priorities would be to increase and strengthen membership in The Associates Council. Their participation in Direct Volunteer opportunities as well as fundraising can have great impact. I will also be visiting the sites to assess their needs regarding Direct Volunteers.

Q: You bring such a great background of experience to the table, what do you think is your greatest asset and how will this help our Volunteer Services Department?

A: I think one of my greatest assets is that I’ve spent my career connecting with people, on-camera and face to face. Relationships are the key to engaging people’s support in anything you do. I also spent several years as a weekly volunteer and have a good idea of what motivates volunteers.

Q: Kat, why do you think volunteering is so crucial to a large service organization such as The Children’s Aid Society?

A: Volunteers are an incredibly valuable resource to The Children’s Aid Society on so many levels. Whether it’s mentoring a child or organizing a fundraiser, the passion and commitment of volunteers is what makes it possible for the CAS to do the great work it does.

Give It Back For Jobs Turns Tax Cuts into Charitable Donations

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The holidays have come and gone leaving little trace of the red wrapping paper or the fresh pine tree scent. The fun and excitement of giving gifts to loved ones might be over, but there is still much to do to help those struggling in a down economy.

With the help of giveitbackforjobs.org, a new website created by three academics, Americans can choose to lend a helping hand to organizations that serve the underprivileged. Jacob Hacker, Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University; Robert Hockett, Professor of Law at the Cornell Law School and Daniel Markovits, Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School created the website in an effort to encourage higher income earning individuals to donate their Bush administration tax cuts which were recently renewed.

The site does it all for you! It calculates the estimated value of the tax cut under the new extension and even recommends charities that help communities that are struggling due to the weak economy.

“These causes can use the help and the people they benefit can sure use the help,” said Professor Markovits when interviewed on the Fox Business Network.

One of the charities featured on giveitbackforjobs.org is The Children’s Aid Society. The Children’s Aid Society strives to fill the gaps between what children have and what they need to thrive. It has been serving children for more than 150 years and today serves New York's neediest children and their families. With more than 45 locations in the five boroughs and Westchester County, Children’s Aid offers services and programs ranging from Early Childhood to Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention to assisting families secure stable, affordable housing and avoid homelessness through The New York Times Subprime Neediest Cases Program.

Click here to learn more about The Children’s Aid Society.

Children’s Aid Stays Open on Holidays

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If you think about it, there are many dates when schools close but adults still must work, therefore presenting a dilemma for parents who may not have an alternative child care option. On most holidays (i.e. winter break, Martin Luther King’s Birthday), Children’s Aid centers and community schools run a full day of programming so that parents do not need to make special arrangements. The day can consist of a range of recreational and academic activities/trips as well as holiday-related themes.

Most recently, P.S./I.S. 50 incorporated a Winter Wonderland theme into their winter break holiday program. The children created and exhibited winter-like environments and landscapes using art supplies as well as recyclable materials. Holiday program participants at P.S. 152 had a Holidays Around the World Workshop and Etiquette Tea Party just in time for all the dinner celebrations of the New Year.

“I know of many parents who would have to take time off of work to stay home with their children during holiday school closings. For this community that would be a financial burden, so being able to keep the school open for children on those days is most definitely a big help in keeping those families stable,” - Alondra Garcia, Program Director at P.S. 8, a Children’s Aid Society Community School.

Children’s Aid Celebrates Three Kings Day in East Harlem

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For many of the Latino children and families who participate in The Children’s Aid Society programs, the holiday season doesn’t end New Year’s Day. Three Kings Day is a celebration of the Biblical story of the three wise men that travel to visit baby Jesus and present him with gifts. This celebration is still widely observed within many Latino immigrant communities.

Thanks to El Museo del Barrio, this tradition is kept alive with the annual Three Kings Day Parade. For the fifth year in a row, Children’s Aid Early Childhood participants joined in on the fun. Approximately 80 parents and staff accompanied about 60 children from our East Harlem Center and P.S. 152, a Children’s Aid Community School in Washington Heights, in the parade where they were able to show off their handmade crowns and drums. “Everyone had a blast!” says Moria Cappio, Director of the East Harlem Center's Early Childhood Programs.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers Donates 1 Million Books to Children in Need

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The world’s largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble, Inc. announced last week that it had collected over one million books to be donated to children all across the United States. During its 2010 Holiday Book Drive, which took place November 1st thru January 1st, customers were able to purchase a book to be donated to America’s neediest children.

The books have already started to be distributed to these children through their schools, libraries and social service organizations, including The Children’s Aid Society.

“This holiday tradition is a wonderful way for booksellers and customers to come together and give the gift of reading to children in their local communities,” said Sarah DiFrancesco, director of Community Relations for Barnes & Noble.

We are grateful to Barnes & Noble and its customers for the generous donation!

Children’s Aid Preventive Services: Helping NYC Children and Families Stay Together

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Recently, Children’s Aid Preventive Services received a new contract awarded by New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). We interviewed Alirio Guerrero, Director of Preventive Services to find out more information about it and Preventive Services.

Hi Alirio, can you start by telling me a little but about yourself and your background?

I joined Children’s Aid in 1997. Prior to that, I worked for a community-based child welfare organization on the Lower East Side. I started my career right out of college at DYFS – the New Jersey State-run child welfare agency before pursuing Masters in Social Work and coming to work in NYC. My experience with child welfare and my passion for family work led to the current focus of our preventive service programs which is to provide the basic case work and as well as a clinical approach using a family systems model. I learned about this through a 5-year training program I completed at Ackerman Institute for the Family.

You’ve had a long and focused history in child welfare! Now can you explain what preventive services are?

Preventive Services is a program contracted by the New York City Administration for Children's Services to prevent foster care placement of children who are at risk of abuse and/or neglect in their homes. Through our contract with ACS we provide a wide array of supportive and therapeutic services to help parents provide a safe home for their children.

Who is eligible for these services?

Any parent or legal guardian of children under age 18 in the home with difficulties that could potentially place the children at risk of foster care placement are eligible for Preventive Services. Many of our referrals come from ACS following a child protective investigation or from community agencies when risk in a home has been identified. However, families may also refer themselves to the program when they feel in need of additional support to keep their home stable.

What exactly will the new contract allow you and your team to do?

Our new contract with ACS will allow us to maintain the programming we currently provide in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. In addition, we will be able to expand the program into Staten Island to provide another layer of service to the CAS programs already operating in that borough.

How do our readers find out more, or get these services?

To find out more about Preventive Services, contact the Director, Alirio Guerrero (917) 207-5500 or email Aliriog@childrensaidsociety.org To make a referral, call or email the program supervisors located at each site. Manhattan: (212) 987-4873 or email Michellea@childrensaidsociety.org Bronx: (718) 716-7531 or email Metab@childrensaidsociety.org Staten Island: stay tuned.....we'll be up and running by April 2011!

What’s the latest news at Preventive Services?

This is a very exciting time for the program. We recently found out that the RFP we presented to ACS for our new contract was ranked the best in New York City in 7 out of the 9 community districts that we targeted. We are so proud that all of the hard work we put into the RFP process has been recognized. I’m also happy to announce that I have been invited by World Vision to be one of the keynote speakers at the International Symposium on Child Protection in Taiwan in March 2011. I will be speaking on the subject of Preventive Services for Children and Families at Risk. I am thrilled to be able to share the experience and knowledge I’ve gained in my work here at CAS with an international audience.

We want to thank Alirio for giving us this great information and remind that you can find out more about Preventive Services on our website here.

Children’s Aid Youth Get Exclusive Look at The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

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Radio City Music Hall

Photograph by Michael Smelser on Fickr

Every child deserves to experience the magic of the holidays and one great way to do this is at The Radio City “Christmas Spectacular.” Thanks to Coca-Cola and ShopRite, 1,000 New York City children in need were able to add that experience to their lists.

The day after Christmas, children from The Garden of Dreams Foundation’s partner organizations, including The Children’s Aid Society, were invited to attend a private showing of the “Christmas Spectacular” starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes.

"In this season of giving, ShopRite and Coca-Cola are proud to come together to offer this special treat to the children from the Garden of Dreams Foundation," said Karen Meleta, corporate spokesperson for ShopRite. "ShopRite has always believed in giving back to the communities we serve, and this is one small way we can make kids' dreams come true."

Children’s Aid participants invited to attend the show came from the Dunlevy Milbank Center, East Harlem Center and some of the newest Bronx programs for students in transitional housing.