The Children's Aid Blog

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: Long After Southern Storm, Still Looking for New Home

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Shelly Berry enter her children in schools and find work for herself.

The first few days of Shelly Berry’s life in New York City were spent in the hallway of an apartment building in the Bronx. That was where she and her two daughters slept for three nights, huddled together on the grimy floor of a stairwell.

Their predicament began a month before, in April 2011, when a series of devastating tornadoes struck Raleigh, N.C., where Ms. Berry and her daughters lived. The tornadoes left several people dead, injured scores of others and demolished many buildings, including Ms. Berry’s apartment. But she and her daughters, Stephanie, 11, and Kaylia, 13, had managed to pack some clothes into three bags and had taken shelter with a neighbor.

Ms. Berry, who had been laid off as a receptionist, was now out of work, low on money and homeless; she had to figure out her next move quickly.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: A Drive for Education From an Inspiring Mother

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Dianuris Ortiz reach her goal of entering and graduating from college.

When it comes to role models, Dianuris Ortiz said, her mother, Marcia Dominguez, was the ideal.

“All her outfits matched,” Ms. Ortiz, 21, said. “She was always in heels, she was professional, she had respect for herself.”

Ms. Dominguez came to the United States from Cuba in 1979 as a political refugee, Ms. Ortiz said. She went to college and got a job as a social worker — all the while raising three children in the South Bronx mostly on her own.

“It was always school first,” Ms. Ortiz said. “My mom had us in a straight line. If we got out of line, she corrected us.”

Her mother, she said, was the epitome of class and elegance.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

Children's Aid Helps to Educate Latinos on the Citizenship Process

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The Children’s Aid Society works to provide children and families with the supports they need to succeed, thrive and realize their “American dream”. For many of the immigrant parents in the communities served by CAS part of achieving this is being able to fully participate in the democratic process. CAS has joined the ya es hora ¡Ciudadanía! Campaign to engage community members who are eligible permanent residents in an information session to educate them in the naturalization process. With over 400 partnering organizations, the campaign has motivated over 1 million individuals to obtain their U.S. citizenship.

The information session, which is also co-sponsored by Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, is to be held this Saturday, January 28th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at he Eleanor Roosevelt Intermediate School - I.S. 143 in Washington Heights. The topics to be discussed will include process and documentation requirements to apply for citizenship and the benefits. For more information call 1-888-839-8682 or visit

Children’s Aid Society’s Food & Nutrition Director to Speak at Local Food Conference

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Just Food will hold its 2012 conference “EAT • WORK • GROW THE MOVEMENT” at the Food & Finance High School on February 24th and 25th. This conference will bring together over 1,000 local food lovers and advocates. CSA members, community gardeners, urban and rural farmers, food professionals and entrepreneurs will participate in two days of hands-on workshops, discussions and skills-building sessions and of course some good food. The Children’s Aid Society’s very own Food & Nutrition Director, Stefania Patinella, will speak at the conference on the importance of serving real, fresh and nutritious foods in our city’s most important institutions, such as day cares, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. Her talk is based on our successful Go!Healthy Meals model, which serves delicious, from-scratch meals to 2,000 children each day.

Just Food is a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers. Ticket costs are $30 per day or $50 for both days and discounts are available for students, farmers and low-income community members.  

For more information on the conference, registration and to buy tickets, please visit

Caption: Director of Food and Nutrition Programs at The Children’s Aid Society, Stefania Patinella with CAS participants at the Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. Photo by Lily Kesselman.

New York City Mayor Honors MLK at Children’s Aid Community School

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Schools were not in session this past Monday, January 16th, but many students headed to the Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, to honor one of America’s most prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Approximately 100 middle and elementary school students participated in a morning full of beautification and literacy activities hosted by Mayor Michael Bloombergand the NYC Serviceto commemorate Dr. King’s birthday.

To kick off the activities, students and volunteers were treated to breakfast and opening remarks from the Mayor and star of “The Mountain Top”, Angela Bassett. Mayor Bloomberg and The Children’s Aid Society’s President and CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. toured the various activities that included a one-on-one reading with volunteers as well as an “I Have A Dream” themed drawing activities.

New York Times Neediest Cases Story: In a Family Emergency, $204 and Help With Red Tape

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Salena Johnson take care of her two young sons as she looks for work and volunteers at their school:

Last winter, when Salena Johnson had no money, her two young sons missed school for a week.

“They don’t really like to stay home,” Ms. Johnson, 42, said. “Even if they’re sick, they still want to come to school, and I have to tell them they can’t let the other kids get sick.”

For the past several years, Ms. Johnson, a mother of six whose other children are all grown, has relied on public assistance to help make ends meet and rear her youngest sons, Taquan, 10, and Jamir, 12, in the Bronx. She was laid off from her job as a home care aide at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx in 2006 and has not found work since.

“Once I pay my light and gas bill, I really don’t have too much left,” said Ms. Johnson, who lives in the Morrisania section. Her youngest sons’ father has at times provided financial help, but it has been inconsistent, Ms. Johnson said.

Her sons, however, have had full and active lives, thanks in large part to the Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools program at Public School 50 in East Harlem, where they have been enrolled for five years. Ms. Johnson said none of the schools in her neighborhood compared with what P.S. 50 offered the boys, so they take two trains to school in Manhattan.

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

Children’s Aid Top Ten Blog Posts of 2011

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New York Times Neediest Cases Story: A Woman’s Struggles Unleash Memories of Trauma

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about helping Brendaly Mozco work through many years of surpressed trauma and getting her family back on the right track to emotional and financial stability:

"When she was 15, a partner in her stepfather’s illicit business picked her up at school, drove her to an abandoned lot and raped her, she said.

Scared and ashamed, she told no one.

When her marriage collapsed, Ms. Moczo said, an overwhelming depression descended on her. “I would cry, and I didn’t want to in front of the children, but sometimes you can’t help it,” she said. “I would just want to sit on the sofa. I didn’t want to move; I just wanted silence.”  

“The Children’s Aid Society are the ones who held me; they picked me up when I was on the ground,” Ms. Moczo said. “I feel much, much better. I have my ups and downs, but they always put me back on track.”  

Click here to read the complete article and to learn more about the Neediest Cases Fund.

Say Yes for Youth and Save Our After-School Programs

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On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, despite the frigid cold, youth services providers and City Council members stood on the steps of City Hall to fight for the restoration of funding for after-school programs.  The OST after-school system, which was created by Mayor Bloomberg in 2005, was once the largest and most respected after-school system in the country. 

At its height, it served 85,000 children throughout NYC, providing them with a mix of academic enrichment, recreational and cultural activities after-school, on holidays and during the summer.  Programs are free of charge and were located in every neighborhood in the city. 

Over the last three years, the after-school system has been gutted, just at a time when families and children need them the most.  Currently, there are 418 programs serving approximately 53,000 children in New York Cit.  In September of this year, when more than one million children return to school, there will only be 27,000 available slots for after school and 220 OST after-school programs.  Because of this, families will have to scramble to find a safe and engaging place for their children to go after-school – just at a time when parents are struggling to find and keep work.  After-school staff will lose their jobs.  And, most importantly, children and youth will lose the engaging and enriching programs that they love. 

On behalf of the thousands of young people across the City, we implore the City to make restorations for these programs. 

The Children’s Aid Society has 16 city-funded OST after-school programs in community centers and community schools.  We serve 2,280 children in these programs. Read the press release from the New York City Youth Alliance here.

Volunteers from Jones Lang LaSalle Brighten Up the Walls in the Bronx

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On Saturday, November 19th, the Early Childhood Center walls at The Children’s Aid Society’s Bronx Family Center were touched up by volunteers from Jones Lang LaSalle, a facilities partner for Bank of America. Twenty-five volunteers gathered at BFC to brighten up the space for the children and their families. Jones Lang LaSalle employee David Rodriguez ordered and delivered the paint and materials himself. He also assigned the painters specific tasks…some were rollers or worked on the trim, while others updated the doors.

By early afternoon the beautifully painted classroom, corridor and lobby were complete. Volunteers were energized with many expressing a sense of accomplishment.

Stay tuned…this same group is planning on building a rooftop garden at the Bronx Family Center.