The Children's Aid Blog

Garden of Dreams Foundation Presents Hero Award to Michael Roberts of The Children’Aid Society

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Heroes are often thought of as mythical creatures, those who are endowed with supernatural powers who nobly fight against all odds for the safety and betterment of the world.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, Madison Square Garden and the Garden of Dreams Foundation honored a real life hero, Mr. Michael Roberts, Assistant Division Director/Adolescent Services of City & Country Branches.  Though he hasn’t fought dragons or vindictive villains, Mr. Roberts, in his own way has a lifetime of experience in fighting for the safety and progression of those whom he has served throughout his career.  His passion and lifelong dedication to children, youth, and families is an inspiration and embodies the courage and nobleness ascribed to real heroes that we revere.

Standing at half court, flanked by MSG officials and two proud protégés, and surrounded by friends, family, and thousands of fans, Mr. Roberts was the second person in all of MSG history to be presented with this prestigious and exceptional honor—the Garden of Dreams Hero Award.  The stadium erupted in cheers and applause as Mr. Roberts’ graciously accepted this well deserved award that celebrates his work in the field of youth development.  The ensuing evening proved to be just as spectacular.  New Yorkers were proud of the victorious 104-101 Knicks win over the Boston Celtics, but none were prouder than the staff, youth, and families of The Children’s Aid Society on behalf of Mr. Roberts.  Congratulations, Michael Roberts!  You deserve it!

Children's Aid's Carrera Program Featured on NPR

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Here’s something really exciting – a nationally broadcast endorsement of our work!  On Sunday, June 6, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered featured an interview with Dr. Michael Carrera in a fabulous segment about The Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program.

The broadcast explores how Michael Carrera developed his philosophy of linking messages about sexuality to all of the other concerns that young people have (including education, jobs, sports, creativity and their health and well being), approaching teens holistically instead of just about sex. When this happens, he has said, teens develop hope – a very powerful contraceptive.  They see that they can have a productive future that they won’t want to risk with early pregnancies.

Our adolescent pregnancy prevention program has been independently evaluated and shown to be effective at greatly reducing teen pregnancies and births. The All Things Considered segment jumped off from the Obama administration’s decision to fund an evidence-based approach to reducing teen pregnancy and noted that the Children’s Aid Carrera model is one of 28 approved under the federal Replication of Evidence-based Programs .

Noting that “few have more experience with teen sexuality education and adolescent development that Michael Carrera,” the reporter also stated, “It’s hard to find people who don’t like the Carrera model.”

We’re thrilled that this program is getting a lot of attention!  Since current data indicate that the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is on the rise for the first time in many years, attention to this proven-effective program is timely.  According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Unplanned Pregnancy , a child born to an unmarried teen has a 27 percent chance of growing up in poverty, and if that teen did not graduate from high school or earn a GED, the chances of the child growing up in poverty increase to 64 percent. The costs to society are staggering, and the personal cost to the teens can be devastating.

We hope you will listen to at your first opportunity!  And of course, if you want to learn more about The Children’s Aid Society, please visit our website.

Children’s Aid Helping ALL Members of the Family

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

It is an issue that unfortunately many of us have had some experience with, but, many people have difficulty understanding or grasping the severity of this national problem. Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a problem that affects all people regardless of race, income, religion, gender or sexual orientation. One of the many factors that contribute to carrying out this form of abuse on an intimate partner and/or children stems from experiencing or witnessing the same trauma as a child.

The Family Wellness Program is the only program in New York City that serves the entire family – including abusive partners. We believe that when there is violence in the home, it is in the best interest of the children to provide services to every member of the family, in an effort to stop generational violence and restore healthy relationships between parents and children, if possible. The Children’s Aid Society and the New York City’s Coalition on Working with Abusive Partners (CoWAP) brought together over 200 New York City providers of domestic violence services, legal services, mental health, child welfare services and fatherhood programs at the One Size Does Not Fit All: Exploring Diverse Approaches to Working with Abusive Partners conference in 2009 to discuss multiple approaches being used around the country to work with perpetrators of intimate partner abuse.

The information gathered at the conference and colloquium was used to develop ’next steps’ for expanding services for abusive partners in New York City. Recommendations from The Children’s Aid Society, based upon information gathered from the experts, include:

  • An assessment of the abusive partner that identifies the factors that contributes to their abusive behavior.
  • Individualized therapy to support behavior change.
  • Parenting programs designed specifically for abusive parents.
  • Substance abuse treatment specifically designed to also address the co-occurrence of abusive behavior.
  • Counseling for the couple and family only following individual services for both partners, when there is no longer violence or significant risk of violence, and accompanied by individual services and ongoing safety assessment by a professional with expertise in domestic violence.
  • Greater consistency in the application of consequences imposed by the criminal justice system.
  • Ongoing services for abusive partners after the initial program completion in order to support behavior change.

It is clear that current services need to be re-evaluated and diversified to properly treat and protect victims and their families. We believe that including intensive counseling and work with the abuser, to maintain a nonviolent home for children - while ensuring the safety of affected child first and foremost - is integral in tackling the roots of generational abuse.

Children’s Aid Stars Take on Radio City Music Hall

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

On the evening of April 28th, up-and-coming stars from The Children’s Aid Society and other youth-serving agencies from throughout the tri-state area had the exciting opportunity to showcase their talents at the MSG Entertainment’s “City of Dreams,” Sixth Annual Spring Talent Show on the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall. Hundreds of excited friends and family members lined up outside the doors of Radio City, eagerly waiting to nab up-front and center seats in the massive 6,000-seat auditorium. The night kicked-off with appearances from illustrious guests, including actress/comedian/singer-songwriter/talk show host Whoopi Goldberg and actor Matthew Modine. Following opening introductions, the Radio City Rockettes, bejeweled in signature sequins and top hats, escorted the young performers onstage where the night’s performances commenced. There were twenty performances in total, and a whopping four groups from CAS performed—more groups than from any other partnering children’s agencies.

The Children’s Aid Society Choir was the first CAS group to take the stage. The all-girl group swept onstage, looking stunning in their shimmering black dresses. The Choir performed a moving rendition of “Mama Who Bore Me” from the musical, Spring Awakening.

The second CAS group was a trio of young men from our Frederick Douglass Center’s Intel Computer Clubhouse. For their special night onstage, the group composed their very own, original piece of music, entitled, “U R Mine.” Decked out in dress shirts and ties, the trio serenaded the audience with their sweet melody, bumping beats, and soulful voices.

Switching to dance mode, the third CAS group, Somethin’ Untouchable, from our Dunlevy Milbank Center, tore up the dance floor with a tightly choreographed, high-energy mash-up of dance routines that included hip-hop moves and cheerleading pyramids that brought the audience to their feet.

Closing out the evening, Children’s Aid’s Harmony in Harlem, from our Drew Hamilton Center — a youth jazz ensemble consisting of percussionists, horn players, drummers and violinists — got into the groove with a lively piece of jazz/funk fusion that got toes tapping and hips swaying.

It was an incredible night for the blossoming stars and all their loved ones who came out to support and cheer them on.

Tracy Gilmore
Development Associate

A Year in Review: I.S. 166 Middle School Youth Council

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The Youth Council of I.S. 166 has experienced an enormous amount of obstacles this year.  Due to budget cuts our program was cut down from 5 to 3 days per week.  As a result Youth Council members had to make the sacrifice of missing out on their chosen clubs for most of the day in order to participate in Youth Council activities and workshops.  In this instance, being youth developer proved somewhat difficult because I wanted my students to take part in everything we as a program, had to offer.  In the end I was able to compromise. Youth Council members were able to take part in Youth Council for only the first half of after-school programming then had the choice to stay or go to their club for the rest of the day.  To my happiness, members chose to stay through the entire day.

Elections & choosing issues to advocate for went smoothly.  However, after a month or two, our president stopped attending after school and our president from the prior year was re-elected.  After this we were able to pick up where we left off and focus our attention on preparing for the conference.  We went to Wagon Road to grow together more as a youth council and work on our facilitation skills.

In December, while making the final preparations for our winter showcase, we learned our Community School Director Jobis Ozoria was tragically killed in a car accident.  We cancelled the show and informed the kids on what happened.  This, to say the least, had a tremendous affect on everyone within I.S. 166 and The Children's Aid Society.  We cried together, we grieved together. During this period it was important for us to remember all the good that Jobis represented and I made this my priority with the kids.

When discussing ways that we can honor Jobis we decided that naming the street in which the school is located after him would be most fitting.  We received tons of support, not only from the school and The Children’s Aid Society but also from Mr. Ozoria’s family and the community.  As of now, we received over 700 signatures and have spoken in front of the community board advocating for Grant Avenue between 163rd and 164th to be renamed to Jobis Ozoria Place.  Currently it is in the process of becoming law which is a very good sign that we can achieve this wonderful feat.

Keeping the ball rolling, we thought of ways to expand Youth Council and its message of advocacy and youth involvement.  As a result we are currently working on our very own television program through Bronx Net.  This would be a platform for Youth Council to discuss and advocate for issues on a more public level and show young people that their voices can be heard.

The Youth Council of 166 has dealt with a lot this year, but through it all has stuck together and bonded as a true family. I am proud of these young men and women and truly thankful to be a part of their lives.  They never cease to amaze me and are a prime example of the great things that can happen when positive young people get together to make a change.  They have not only been an inspiration to other students but to myself as well.  When I see the work they have accomplished and continue to work on, I am reminded that nothing is impossible if you truly work hard for it and have the support of others around you.

Joshua Poyer
Youth Council Developer
I. S. 166
Bronx, New York

Associates Council Hosts Domestic Violence Forum

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

On Wednesday, May 12, members of The Children’s Aid Society’s Associates Council hosted a Domestic Violence Forum. The forum’s discussion focused specifically on the effects of domestic violence on children and adolescents. Kerry Moles, The Children’s Aid Society’s Director of Family Wellness moderated the discussion. Christian Burgess of Safe Horizon shared his perspective from working in a school setting with “tweens” where his team educates students on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. Angela Montague of Metropolitan Hospital offered her reflections on working in a hospital setting, which is often the site of the first intervention in many cases of domestic violence.

According to the discussion, 32 million Americans have been affected by domestic violence. Sadly, statistics show that incidence of domestic violence is higher among families in poverty. The discussion provided the audience with a broad perspective on different approaches to combating this terrible, yet preventable trend and provided an opportunity for questions and answers. At The Children’s Aid Society, we take a unique approach to working with families that struggle with domestic abuse. In addition to working with survivors, CAS’s Family Wellness Program works directly with the perpetrators by providing counseling and other needed services--- ours is the only program in New York City that serves the whole family, including abusive partners. We believe that when there is violence in the home, it is in the best interest of the children to provide services to every member of the family, in an effort to stop generational violence and restore healthy relationships between parents and children, if possible. For more information on the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness program, please visit. http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/familywellness.

We are grateful to the Associates Council for their efforts to organize this terrific educational event and look forward to future forums.  If you are a young professional looking to become involved with the Associates Council through advocacy work and with our fundraising initiative,  please visit us at: http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/volunteer/associates_council or on Facebook.

Mary Newcomb
Development Assistant
The Children's Aid Society

The Drew Hamilton Center Celebrates Week of the Young Child

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration in April sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Week of the Young Child was first established in 1971 to bring attention to the needs of young children and their families and for communities to plan on ways to better meet these needs. Also during this week early childhood programs and educators are recognized for their work. In the United States, approximately 13 million infants, toddlers and preschool children are in non-parental day care.

At The Children’s Aid Society, we recognize that the early childhood years are the most critical for laying the foundation for children’s success academically and throughout life. The Drew Hamilton Center in Harlem celebrated its youngsters by displaying their talents as authors, illustrators and actors. The children also honored their teachers with certificates.

Children’s Aid Nurses Help Bring Medical Relief to a Still-Devastated Haiti

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Neither the news clips, nor the countless stories from my colleagues that have traveled to Haiti after the earthquake prepared me for the atrocities of the ruins. When I landed in Haiti on March 29, 2010, I was overwhelmed by mixed emotions. While I was very happy to be part of the mission-to be in Haiti, my birth place, to see the Haitian people, the people that I love and care for so very much-I was also very tearful at the devastation and the condition the people of Haiti are living in. It saddened me when I did not recognize my parents’ home, a place that I value very much and had some very profound memories of growing up in.  However, I found solace in the resiliency of the people, their will to live, and their hope to carry-on, rebuild and continue with life as if nothing ever happened.

Photo Courtesy of Ixleine Dufrene for The Children's Aid SocietyThe Haitian American Nurses Association (HANA) has partnered with several organizations to help meet the medical needs of the thousands left severely injured by the earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January12, 2010. As part of the HANA Disaster Medical Relief Mission project, we worked in collaboration with several organizations to recruit and facilitate volunteer nurses and doctors for this project. All of our efforts have been concentrated in Port-au-Price. On March 29, 2010 HANA undertook a bold initiative of spearheading a special mission to six suburban provinces in Haiti also affected by the earthquake who have seen little in the form of help. The goal was to create a group of a minimum of 50 volunteer nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors who would be divided into teams and simultaneously be on the ground in Haiti, providing medical assistance for one week.  The HANA members were to recruit friends and colleagues to assist with the mission.  I am employed by The Children’s Aid Society in New York City; I recruited two special nurses Olabisi Olowoyo and Geralde Sully of the Medical Foster Care Program to partake in this special mission.

Our days began at 5 o’clock in the morning and finish by 8 at night. I believe some of the members would carry on through the night if they could; there wasn’t a lack of patients to see but a lack of electricity made it unsafe to work. Needless to say the mission on our end was a success; however, we could not help wishing that we could have done more.

During that week we saw and treated more than 2,500 Haitians.  Their ailments varied from malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, skin ailments, GERD, pelvic inflammatory disease, untreated hypertension; some have been diagnosed but unable to buy the prescribed medication.  But the most striking were malnutrition, illnesses caused by a lack of hygiene, and teenage pregnancy.  We vaccinated a thousand farmers, pregnant women and children seven years and older with donated tetanus vaccines. We also took every opportunity possible to provide health education and distribute condoms.

It has already been four months since the earthquake; people are still living in tents on the streets with no access to portable water and facilities, hungry children and parents who seem to have accepted their fate and do not complain. With the hurricane season approaching, one cannot help but to think of the unimaginable when thinking of how and what else one can do to help.

Haiti is no longer in the news headlines, but the Haitian people need us and we cannot stop working toward a better Haiti.  I want to take the time to thank everyone who has helped in Haiti disaster relief efforts, everyone who prayed for us while we were in Haiti and especially my colleagues at Children’s Aid who covered for us while we were away.

Ixleine Dufrene The Children's Aid Society

Holistic Approach Leads to Improved Education Outcomes: Testimony Regarding the ESEA’s Renewal

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

At a recent hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, youth development and education advocates implored lawmakers to advance measures that address “the whole child,” as Congress prepares to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Testimony included representatives from Communities in Schools, the nation’s largest drop-out prevention organization, Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Forum for Youth Investment. Speakers emphasized the importance of comprehensive, integrated care in advancing education and closing the achievement gap; many cited how holistic approaches have successfully improved outcomes for our nation’s under-resourced youth and revitalized communities.

Increasingly, lawmakers and the Obama administration, including Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, are working to reshape policy and move towards a paradigm that expands the support services available to students, meeting critical health and other needs.  “If our children aren’t safe, they can’t learn,” Secretary Duncan told a forum on health sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “If our children aren’t fed, they can’t learn. If our children can’t see the blackboard, they can’t learn.”

Children’s Aid believes that the holistic approach is the right approach.  Our Community Schools model is grounded in the “whole child” approach and effectively targets critical social, emotional and health barriers to academic achievement. In fact, 16 years of research has highlighted what we’ve seen since our first Community School opened in 1992this approach works. Our model has been shown to increase academic achievement and improve student attendance[i]&[ii]; improve student social and emotional development[iii]; increase parent and community engagement[iv]&[v]; and improve mental and physical health.[vi]

You can download testimony and watch the United States Senate’s Full Committee Hearing on the ESEA reauthorization here.  For more information about Children’s Aid’s Community Schools, please visit our website.

Jane Mabe
Development Associate
The Children’s Aid Society

[i] 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings, prepared by Kira Krenichyn, Heléne Clark, Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel and Lymari Benitez of ActKnowledge, September 2005.  See also Summary of Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999, prepared by ActKnowledge.

[ii] Op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.  See also Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings.

[iii] Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings. See also op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[iv] Op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[v] Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings. See also op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[vi] The Children’s Aid Society’s Community School Mental Health Services Analysis of Progress in 4th Year of the New York State Education Department’s VESID – Effective Practices Contract. Evaluation conducted by Heléne Clark and Robert Engle of ActKnowledge, November 2003.  See also PS 50 Evaluation of the Health Component in its First Year. Evaluation conducted by Heléne Clark, Melissa Extein, and Robert Engle of ActKnowledge, September 2003.

Fostering Families in the Bronx

Email Twitter Facebook MySpace Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Imagine being separated from your home, family, friends and neighborhood. No matter the age, children entering in the foster care system are scared and need as much stability as possible. Keeping these fragile children connected to the world they are familiar with will make a difficult time much more bearable and may lessen the short and long term effects of being in foster care. The need for caring homes is especially great in the Bronx. The Children’s Aid Society recognizes the importance in keeping children in foster care connected to their schools, health care providers and family members and is working at full force to recruit families in the Bronx who are willing to open their doors and hearts to children in need. Bronx Family recently printed an article on the high demand for foster homes in the Bronx and the importance in keeping children within their community.

To read more on this issue and the comments of Richard Buery, Jr., president and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, please read the article in Bronx Family.