The Children's Aid Blog

Fannie Lou Hamer H.S. Women's Boutique

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On December 13, Fannie Lou Hamer High School, a Children’s Aid community school, held a Women’s Boutique to honor its mothers with an evening dedicated to pampering and care. Close to 50 mothers, grandmothers, aunts and guardians attended this evening event built around their financial, emotional and mental wellness.

The New York City Office of Financial Empowerment provided the women with useful information on how to protect their credit and identity, and how to obtain free or low cost tax return preparation assistance. The representatives were available the entire evening to answer any private questions the women had as well. Another important topic was daily stress and finding methods to prevent or to cope with it. On hand was a practitioner of modern Eastern medicine, who gave the women useful tips on how to avoid or cope with every day stresses.

The women also were treated to amazing musical performances from students, and a healthy and tasty dinner. What’s more, each participant left with gifts. In partnership with World Vision, TD Bank and Dress Barn, guests took home bath and beauty products and had the opportunity to choose a new outfit or two from racks of brand new clothing donated by Dress Barn.

Visit this event's photo gallery to view more photos.


Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

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High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

  1. REASSURE CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE SAFE. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. MAKE TIME TO TALK. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or housework. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feeling
  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
  • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.

Click here to read more Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers


Hogs & Heifers Bring Christmas to Harlem

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Written by Alirio Guerrero, Director of Preventive Services

This past Sunday December 9, you might have noticed the caravan or heard the thundering sounds of nearly 80 motorcycles driving up the West Side Highway to deliver over 300 gifts and holiday fun to the children and families of The Children’s Aid Society’s Preventive Services Program.

For a second year in a row, we have been fortunate enough to partner with Michelle Dell, President of Hogs & Heifers Saloon New York City, her amazing staff and their customers. Their generosity and energy was overwhelming, from their commitment to the event, to the donations of money and toys and to the time they spent with our families on Sunday.

The day started with the parade of the volunteers on their motorcycles rumbling up the West Side Highway to the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem, delivering toys and gifts for everyone. The day continued with plenty of activities for the children such as arts and crafts, face painting and airbrushed personalized Holiday stockings by one of the artistic Hogs, renowned artist, Mickey Harris, who came in from Tennessee in a customized H &H Cadillac!

There were hundreds of toys to choose from and at the end of the day, the children left with something they had been wanting. A catered holiday dinner was served to the families by the Preventive Services team and all the Hogs & Heifers volunteers, including Michelle, who took her time to meet and greet everyone on the buffet line.

The fun and excitement of the day could only be topped by the arrival of Santa who rode in, Hogs & Heifers style, on his orange Harley Davidson -- right into the center’s gymnasium.

Words cannot express our appreciation to everyone who participated this year and everything they have given to these deserving children.

The generosity of the Hogs & Heifers community touched many lives and it was clear from the smiles on their faces that they, too, received joy. We thank the Hog & Heifers organization and hope they know the incredible impact they have made once again on all of us at The Children's Aid Society.


Visit this event's photo gallery to view more photos.

Photos by Lily Kesselman

NYC Architects and Designers Bring “Santa’s Workshop” to Dunlevy Milbank

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On Friday, December 7, The Boys and Girls Club of America and Herman Miller teamed up with top New York City architecture and interior design firms to present the 16th annual “We Care” event at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center. This day of holiday celebration provided a unique arts and crafts workshop for over 350 preschool and school-aged children from the agency’s Dunlevy Milbank Center, East Harlem Center , Taft Day Care and Frederick Douglass Center in Harlem.

Over 100 volunteers set up Santa’s Workshop in the center’s gymnasium. At individual craft stations, volunteers assisted the children in creating gifts for their family and friends. Some of the most decorative and unique creations from this event included festive floral centerpieces, Christmas tree ornaments, personalized picture frames and pencil cases. The children had no issue finding the right gift for the special people in their lives, while enjoying festive music, face painting and gingerbread cookies. And just in case their hectic school schedules won’t allow for that last-minute trip to Macy’s, Santa was on the premises to confirm any final requests.

Students Vie for Prizes at AAMI’s First Public Speaking Competition

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On Saturday, December 1, approximately two dozen Harlem students in fifth through tenth grades gathered at the New York Mission Society’s Minisink Townhouse to compete in a two-part speaking competition judged by an audience of their friends, family and peers. The event was hosted by the African American Male Initiative (AAMI).

Speakers improvised one 3- to 5-minute speech on a topic related to politics and current events. Topics ranged from the serious (the nation’s biggest challenges) to the personal (favorite vacations and the animal they would choose to be, and why). In a second, prepared speech, participants were asked to describe what they would do if they were elected president of the United States.

During lunch, the students were treated to a performance by the New York Mission Society Marching Band. Introducing the group, Mr. Robinson praised the competitors for their participation, noting that public speaking is an essential skill that would serve them well in school and in life.

To press his point, Mr. Robinson urged them to think this way: “If I can express myself,” he said, “maybe I can change the world.”

Given a chance to consider this premise, students tackled the tough issues of the day in their prepared speeches. Arguments were put forward to raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for women, tackle obesity, fight unemployment, boost graduation rates for minorities and guarantee health care for low-income communities.

‘Lift Every Voice’ is the first of three planned events to be hosted by AAMI, The Children’s Aid Society’s  effort to help young black male students succeed in school and lead productive lives.

As Program Director Clifton Watson noted, with attention given to the disproportionate rate at which black and Latino male students face challenges in their academic lives, the event “highlights student commitment to academic success and community investment in such efforts.”

2nd Annual Children's Aid Society Gala a Huge Success

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Last night's second annual Keeping the Promise gala raised more than $1.5 million for The Children's Aid Society and NYC's neediest children, shattering last year's fundraising record. The event was held at 583 Park and honored Citigroup, Inc. and Bill McDermott, Co-CEO of SAP AG, for their long-time support of the organization.

The evening highlighted the importance of education in overcoming poverty and featured several students whose success is a testament to the strength of Children's Aid programs. Florence Wen, 22, and Elvis Santana, 19, served as emcees for the night, and both underscored the night's message by sharing their own personal stories. "I can't imagine my life without Children's Aid programs, and those experiences have made my commitment to education stronger than ever," said Elvis, who is a sophomore at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut.

The second half of the night brought Maria Bartiromo of CNBC to the stage, where she conducted a live interview with Gene McQuade, CEO of Citi, N.A. and fellow honoree Bill McDermott. With an audience of over 500 people, they discussed everything from the impending fiscal cliff to the importance of their work with Children's Aid. "More than ever, in our knowledge-based economy, the antidote to poverty is education," said McQuade.

The gorgeous event space was filled with hand-written messages from other Children's Aid kids, thanking each attendee and making their own pledges of goals they hope to achieve. The program began and ended with a performance by the Children's Aid chorus.

Together, generous donors and friends of Children's Aid will help us reach the vision of college graduation for all the children in our care. From the podium, Mr. McQuade announced a special gift from Citi that, in his words, "will be earmarked to help low-income first generation families meet the academic, financial and social milestones to enroll and complete a postsecondary degree."

Thanking the audience for their commitment, President and CEO Richard Buery also praised them for their belief in equal opportunity. "You announce to the world that the American Dream is not for some children but for all children," he said. "At Children’s Aid, when we talk about 'Keeping the Promise,' that is the promise we are talking about."

View the photo gallery from the event.

See our photos in the New York Times

Watch the video about Children’s Aid from the gala






The Youngest Constituents Make Their Vote Count

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With another very significant Election day upon us, day care participants at The Children’s Aid Society’s Drew Hamilton Center had a taste of the real thing with a mock election at their site: to vote for their snack of the day. The young voters had to decide between apples and oranges. Today, the “election” results and photos are posted around the center to remind parents, staff and other adults the importance of voting. The children are learning from an early age the importance of their opinion and, more importantly, the power in their vote. These 3 and 4 year olds have taught us a valuable lesson: whether you are voting between apples and oranges or presidential candidates, every votes counts. The results are in! While it was a close call between apples and oranges, apples were the majority’s pick of the day!

Civic engagement is a very important duty, we hope that all of those who can, will go out and make their vote count!




Harlem Children and Parents March in Support of After-school Programs

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Over 200 children from The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Center and their families marched up Lenox Avenue in Harlem Thursday evening to the State Office Building on 125th street to raise awareness on the importance of afterschool programs. With colorful signs, loud chanting and letters in hand, the group marched eagerly to meet their community leaders as part of the 13th Annual Lights On Afterschool nationwide rally.

Once there, students delivered moving testimonies and delivered their letters to the offices of Congressman Rangel and Councilmember Dickens. Senator Perkins, a dedicated friend of The Children’s Aid Society and strong advocate for afterschool programs was present to great the lively children.

Lights On Afterschool, an Afterschool Alliance event is a nationwide rally designed to highlight the importance of after-school programs in keeping children safe, educated and meaningfully engaged. One million Americans are estimated to be participating in over 7,500 events across the country. Children’s Aid’s Dunlevy Milbank Center promotes the holistic development of students in after-school activities ranging from educational enhancement, homework assistance, dance, arts and crafts, sports and nutrition. Dunlevy Milbank is one of 12 Children’s Aid Society sites organizing youth to advocate for after-school programming during Lights On Afterschool.

Garden of Dreams Hosts "Pay It Forward" Event at Dunlevy Milbank Center

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This past Columbus Day was a fun day for hundreds of Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank participants because of the special visit they received from a couple well-known friends of The Garden of Dreams Foundation at a "Pay It Forward" event. Among the guests were New York Knicks point guards Jason Kidd and Baron Davis, former shooting guard John Starks, New York Rangers Adam Graves, the Knicks City Dancers and the Rockettes. The event hosted by Garden of Dreams Board Member Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, encouraged the children to give back to their community and do something positive for others. Before the day’s activities took off, Darryl led the youth and adults in an aspirational chant “I am the greatest thing to happen to this universe. And because of that, it's my responsibility to make others great too.”

The children were able to participate in a number of activities that included basketball, hockey, dancing and a singing workshop with Darryl McDaniels himself. Each child also received a Garden of Dreams backpack and school supplies handed out by the celebrity guests. Click here to view more photos.

CAS-Carrera wins $250K grant through Microsoft and Junior Achievement

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The dreary Friday morning downpour failed to dampen the crowd’s excitement at the grand opening of the Microsoft Store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station, NY.  Microsoft event and store staff got the SRO audience hyped with contests, music and a John Legend/Taio Cruz concert ticket giveaway. But for the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera), the high point of the day was the ribbon cutting ceremony, wherein the program received a $250,000 in-kind donation of Microsoft technology.

The gift was facilitated by CAS-Carrera partners Junior Achievement, which was tasked by Microsoft to select local program partners to share in the $1 million award for the New York area. The JA curriculum serves as the cornerstone of CAS-Carrera’s employment component – Job Club –  which helps young people envision productive lives by exposing them to the world of work. Job Club, one of seven core components of the holistic, evidence-based CAS-Carrera program, is designed to improve financial literacy and develop life-long, positive financial decision-making through employment opportunities, entrepreneurial and community service projects, and personal bank accounts.

“We are thrilled and honored to be the recipient of the extraordinary generosity of Microsoft and Junior Achievement. Hundreds of young people in New York City will benefit tremendously from this cutting-edge technology that will enhance our financial literacy and college savings initiatives. The confidence and support of JA and Microsoft will advance CAS-Carrera’s objective of providing young people with rich opportunities to move from potential tax burdens to prospective tax payers,” said Dr. Michael A. Carrera, Director of CAS-Carrera.

To learn more about CAS-Carrera, please visit us at

If you’d like to support CAS-Carrera’s work with JA and other dedicated community partners, please donate here.

[Photo caption]

Greg Denizard, CAS-Carrera Associate Director, Operations & Programs, accepts the award on behalf of the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program