The Children's Aid Blog

National Volunteer Week: Highlighting Children’s Aid Volunteers

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Written by: Volunteer Services Department

In honor of National Volunteer Week, The Children’s Aid Society is celebrating its volunteer family comprised of hundreds of phenomenal individuals.  At Children’s Aid, there are many rewarding volunteering opportunities that range from one-time commitments and corporate volunteer projects to working directly with our clients on a longer term. Volunteer opportunities typically include tutoring, homework help, mentoring, clerical assistance, sponsored beautification projects, holiday events, and opportunities that require a special skill set such as creative design or teaching artists. This week, The Children’s Aid Society is highlighting just a few of our many wonderful volunteers in its blog. 

A message from Malia Poai and Kat Connelly of Volunteer Services:

“The Children’s Aid Society could not do its great work without the selfless dedication of those who give their time, talents, and generous spirit to our programs and children.  We are lucky to witness, time and again, daily examples of your kindness and the life changing impact you have made. Whether you have built a garden, helped a child understand math, facilitated a workshop, or have raised money, we are truly grateful and feel privileged to work with you. We hope that your lives are filled with the same warmth and joy that you give to each one of our children. We thank you and we celebrate you.”

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

An Intervention A Day Can Keep The E.R. Away

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This week, The New York Times introduced us to Gabriel, a second-grader in the Bronx whose classroom disruptions prompted multiple trips to the emergency room for psychiatric evaluations. His story serves to illustrate the harsh reality faced by thousands of New York City schoolchildren whose mental health conditions go untreated or receive punitive action instead of the supports they so desperately need.

The Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) has been successfully diverting boys and girls like Gabriel from the ER for nearly three decades. Today, our Mental Health teams are embedded within four New York City public schools to provide weekly group work during the school day, and full-time, year-round short-term and crisis intervention with program participants and their families, as needed.

Far too many of the young people we serve live in neighborhoods with appalling rates of poverty, violence, and untreated physical and mental health conditions – all formidable barriers to learning. In response, CAS-Carrera Mental Health teams work closely with educators to provide targeted interventions and supports, recognizing that persistent and gentle engagement is crucial, especially when a young person seems not to care. We are in it for the long haul, starting with students in the fifth or sixth grade and sticking with them until they finish high school and beyond.

The good news? The CAS-Carrera program works: For the 1,309 students served during the 2010-2011 school year alone, our mental health staff completed nearly 2,000 mental health assessments; 89 were connected to suicidal ideation, and none resulted in an ER visit or outside referral.

Considering the national average cost for each ER visit is $1,500, in one year we saved NYC taxpayers $133,500 and provided families the access to services that every New Yorker is legally entitled to. More importantly, we have equipped young people with the tools to avoid risky behaviors and embrace the vision of healthy and productive life.

When one considers that youth with mental illness have the highest school dropout rate of any disability group, creating a safe, nurturing and therapeutic environment at school is an effective strategy to ensure our young people get their diplomas. If you’d like to make a powerful investment in the future of our city and young people, please donate to CAS-Carrera  here.

Lottery Randomly Fills Coveted Spots for Children's Aid College Prep Charter School

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The nervous excitement could be felt up and down Southern Boulevard yesterday as big things were happening inside The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center where a new generation of students was randomly selected at the inaugural lottery of the Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School. Over 400 applications of promising youngsters were received by The Children’s Aid Society and the randomized drawing gave preference to particularly needy students who came from a single-parent household, have not attended a full-day kindergarten and who are English language learners among other criteria.

One of the parents in attendance was Jessica Ortiz, a Children’s Aid Society Ambassador and whose children have participated in CAS programs throughout their lives. Her youngest son will be attending 1st grade at Children’s Aid College prep this fall. “I can’t believe we got picked — it’s very exciting and I’m glad that he can go to a school where his needs can be better met,” said Ortiz.

The school will begin serving 120 students in Kindergarten and 1st grade this coming August and will eventually serve 300 through 5th grade. The school’s mission is to ensure that children will achieve academic success by providing them with the best instructional practices, advancing their physical, emotional, and social needs, fostering a sense of pride and hope, and serving as a safe and engaging community hub.

Photo Courtesy of Lily Kesselman.

Learn more at the Children's Aid College Prep Charter School website and in the following media stories:

New York Times School Book

CBS New York

Watch these video clips to see the excitement of the lottery firsthand:

Listen to this clip from 101WINS news radio:

You may need: Adobe Flash Player.

Staten Island Community Fights for Their Beacon Program

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By: Keyla Espinal

On Wednesday April 4th, The Children’s Aid Society and other members of Campaign for Children joined Staten Island parents, students, advocates and Elected Officials to fight against the closure of the Tottenville High School Beacon program and the devastating cuts proposed by the Mayor’s preliminary budget.

The rally was also joined by members from the Community Education Council and their very own councilmember, Vincent Ignizio. Councilmember Ignizio acknowledged that these cuts would be devastating and vouched that he and two other Staten Island council members would work on trying to save these important programs. The agenda was filled with students and advocates alike talking about the positive impact beacon and after-school programs have on them and their families.

Diane Colon, the single mom of 5th grader Ami-Lani who attends the after-school program at The Children’s Aid Society Goodhue Center, reiterated the importance of after-school programs. “In her after-school program, my daughter gets opportunities that I couldn’t afford to give her otherwise – academic support, creative arts, music, and other activities that help her get better grades and enjoy going to school.” Diane’s sentiment is shared by the parents and care-givers of the 47,000 children that will be left without needed services like child care and after-school programs if cut in the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Similar to this rally, the Campaign for Children will be hosting Borough-wide rallies to highlight the specific impacts these cuts would have on those communities.

Next up, on April 17th, there will be a rally at City Hall in which all participating organizations of Campaign for Children, students, parents and advocates will gather from all around the New York City to have their voices heard by city officials. Visit our Take Action page learn more on what you can do and to get more information.

Children's Aid to Receive Pro Bono Consulting Through Morgan Stanley's Strategy Challenge

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Morgan Stanley is lending a helping hand to The Children's Aid Society and fourteen other nonprofit organizations by providing pro bono strategic consulting as part of its fourth annual Strategy Challenge. Over the course of eight weeks, CAS will work with a team of Morgan Stanley volunteers to review the current business model and growth strategies.  This wonderful opportunity will benefit CAS in a multitude of ways and will further our mission to assist children and families in need throughout New York City.

As part of this exciting program, Morgan Stanley volunteers will present their recommendations to experts from both the private and nonprofit sectors. Chairman and CEO James Gorman will present awards to the top teams. Click here to view the official press release.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Moving From Pilots to Policy

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"At the end of the day, however, this incredibly wealthy city has to decide that all children merit real investment."

On the evening of March 27, one of our community schools located in Washington Heights, a heavily Dominican neighborhood, hosted an event with potential implications for education policy in New York City and across the country. The event took place in the library of the Salomé Ureña de Henriquez Campus, our flagship Children's Aid Society community school, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The audience included education students, teachers, parents and principals from across the City.

New York University professor and prominent education policy expert Pedro Noguera spoke passionately and personally about the impact of poverty on students in this neighborhood and dozens like it around the City and the need for a Broader Bolder Approach to Education. Michael Rebell, a professor, founder of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, made the case for the legal right -- not privilege -- of every child to have access to the comprehensive supports that enable a real opportunity for sound education. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer pointed out that when he grew up as a child just a few blocks from the school, the supports being promoted -- quality early childhood and after-school programs -- were assumed to be a necessity and a given, not grounds for political infighting and budget wars. The sticking point, said Deputy Chancellor Shael Suransky, is not that these aren't needed, but rather that putting in place a system that ensures consistent access and quality is complicated and takes time.

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Campaign for Children Call In Day

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We need YOU to call City leaders in charge of the budget and tell them to save child care and after-school programs – programs that allow parents to keep their jobs while their children get the educational opportunities they need to succeed.

Campaign for Children Call In Day – Instructions

On Wednesday April 4th between 9am and 4pm, parents, providers and concerned New Yorkers will take action by calling City leaders and letting them know we are paying attention. 

Call (888)-279-3491 on Wednesday, April 4th to let our City leaders know that child care and after-school must be saved!

Use this script as a guide for your call (and please be polite):

Hi, my name's ________. I'm calling to urge you to save child care and after-school programs.

With the newest budgets cuts, more than 47,000 NYC children are at risk of losing the educational opportunities that pave the way for success. Families that rely on subsidized child care and after-school work hard and play by the rules. Without these programs, many working family members will be unable to keep their jobs and provide for their households, or will be forced to make potentially unsafe arrangements for their children. It is morally wrong to balance the city budget on the backs of children and hard-working families.  We’re counting on YOU to restore the funding to save child care and after-school programs. Thank you.

Calls to the number above will be automatically connected to one of the City leaders in charge of the budget.  If no one answers, leave a voicemail. Despite what message you get from their office, please be assured that these are the key people in making budget decisions.

You can also send a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officals by clicking here.


Mayor Bloomberg’s released his preliminary budget for New York City.  While many programs and services have been protected, the proposed budget fails to include funding for child care and after-school programs for more than 47,000 children currently enrolled in these programs.  The Mayor’s proposed budget would eliminate child care for 15,900 children, and would cut after-school programs for 31,800 children – leaving 47,000 of New York’s children and their families stranded without care. Currently, Children's Aid serves 2,280 children in city-funded OST programs and more than 600 childrens in early childhood programs.

These sweeping cuts would strike a devastating blow to New York City’s working parents – who depend on these critical services to keep their jobs – and their children – who need these early education and after-school programs for future success. The cuts represent a dramatic departure from the Mayor’s stated desire to make education reforms and economic development his top priorities and the foundation of his legacy as mayor.

Treasure & Bond Charity of the Quarter Contest

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The Children’s Aid Society is a semi-finalist in Treasure & Bond Charity of the Quarter. Bringing together fashion and art with social responsibility, Treasure & Bond is making shopping guilt-free with every purchase made supporting programs and services for New York City’s neediest children.

The race to becoming the beneficiary of this wonderful opportunity has begun and so has your task!  Help The Children’s Aid Society become Treasure & Bond’s Charity of the Quarter by voting in-store during the entire month of April. Visit the store as many times as you want and vote for Children’s Aid, if selected, we receive 100% of the proceeds from the store for the entire quarter.

Treasure & Bond
350 West Broadway
(between Broome Street and Grand Street)
Store Hours: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Curating a Children’s Art Show

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Children’s Aid staff and friends are hard at work preparing for the 11th Annual Children’s Art Show scheduled to open to the public April 24th thru the 26th at The National Arts Club. This week, Ann Kugel, a former Children’s Aid Advisory Council Member and Meredith Rugg, a dedicated Children’s Aid Society Trustee, spent hours reviewing hundreds of pieces of art work from participants ages 3 – 18, from Children’s Aid Society fall and winter programs throughout New York City. Water colors on canvas, papier-mâché projects and charcoal drawings lined the vintage boardroom at the 22nd street headquarters where the curating was taking place. Needless to say that this task was not taken lightly as there were more than enough brightly colored, skillfully created masterpieces to choose from.

The young artists, staff and families will have the opportunity to view the artwork and celebrate artistic creativity during a special reception at The National Arts Club. It is always an interesting evening spent with the youth as they enthusiastically describe their piece to everyone in attendance. Look for a full 11th Annual Children’s Art Show recap and photo gallery at

The National Arts Club is located at 15 Gramercy Park South between Park Avenue and Irving Place on 20th street. Gallery hours for the 11th Annual Children’s Art Show are as follows:

April 24th 3 – 5 p.m.
April 25th 9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 3 – 5 p.m.
April 26th 9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

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NYC's Budget Cuts to Leave Lasting Wounds    

"The American dream demands that where a child ends up in life should not be determined by where he started. Race, class and zip code should not determine destiny. "

On March 5th, I joined my colleagues on the steps of City Hall to launch the Campaign for Children to protest the mayor's massive budget cuts to early childhood and after-school programs. I understand that the mayor and the city will have to make difficult choices during the coming budget cycle, but decimating these critical programs for children is the wrong choice.

As the mayor has said, "Teaching doesn't stop when the last school bell rings." He created the city's Out-of-School Time initiative, a nationally recognized effort to bring high-quality after-school and summer programs to kids, declaring that what happens after school is as important as what happens during the school day. From his efforts to remake the schools to his Young Men's Initiative to reverse poor outcomes for young people of color, the mayor has consistently demonstrated his commitment to New York City's children.

That is why the mayor's proposed cuts to early childhood education and after-school programs are so jarring. We all understand how important it is to keep kids engaged and on track beginning at a very early age. Children who are consistently involved in stimulating, educational activities grow up to be smart, safe and productive members of society. They are more likely to go to college, get jobs, support their families and less likely to end up on the streets, involved in gangs or in prison.

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