The Children's Aid Blog

Community Schools: Rooted in Research

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communityA new book based on 15 years of data from public elementary schools in Chicago verifies the approach used by The Children’s Aid Society in its community schools in New York City since March of 1992. Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2010) outlines five critical ingredients of effective school reform:

  • Strong principal leadership that is focused on instruction and inclusive of others;
  • A welcoming attitude toward parents and formation of positive connections with the community;
  • Development of professional capacity, such as teacher professional development and fostering of collaboration;
  • A learning climate that is safe, welcoming, stimulating and nurturing to all students; and
  • Strong instructional guidance and materials.

This formulation mirrors The Children’s Aid Society’s “developmental triangle,” published in our 2005 book, Community Schools in Action: Lessons from a Decade of Practice (Oxford University Press), which calls for a strong instructional program, expanded learning opportunities through enrichment and services designed to remove barriers to children’s learning and healthy development. Children’s Aid conceptualized the triangle after reviewing scores of existing research studies from multiple disciplines, concluding that effective educational reform strategies needed to address both teaching (excellent instruction, rigorous curriculum, timely assessments aligned with instruction) and learning (student health, wellness and engagement; plentiful opportunities to apply academic knowledge through challenging enrichment activities; support and encouragement from parents).

The community schools strategy applies this research through a comprehensive, integrated approach to education that extends the hours, services and partnerships of traditional public schools. Community schools are open all day and well into the evening, six and even seven days per week, year-round. They offer before- and after-school programs, summer camps, adult education, parent involvement and leadership, early childhood, medical, dental, mental health and social services. Many supports, services and opportunities are available to community residents, including adult education and community-wide celebrations and special events. The results from the work of The Children’s Aid Society and our colleagues across the country are powerful—improved achievement, better student and teach attendance, increased parent engagement, decreased community violence. Why isn’t every school a community school?

Jane Quinn
Assistant Executive Director for Community Schools
Director, National Center for Community Schools
The Children’s Aid Society

The Children’s Aid Society Celebrates Black History Month

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historyThroughout the city, The Children’s Aid Society is celebrating Black History Month. Children and staff are honoring Black heroes and she-roes and learning about their contributions to science, art, politics and technology.

The youth at the Hope Leadership Academy in Harlem are studying Marcus Garvey’s life story and have created a bulletin board in honor of Black History Month. They also held a Trivia Night, a fun way to test their memory skills.

At the Drew Hamilton Learning Center, classrooms and an entire corridor have been decorated for Black History month. A bulletin board in one of the classrooms features photos of African American leaders alongside photos of the center’s two- and three-year-olds dressed up as future versions of themselves (pictured at right) – among them a police officer, president and animal doctor. image004 These famous role models help the children envision a bright future full of big plans.

Many sites are also taking their creativity to the stage. Youth at the Frederick Douglass Center have created exhibits throughout the building and will put on a short play for friends and family. The East Harlem Center will close out the month with a “Colors of Our History” performance. Photos by: James Powell and Casper Lassiter for The Children’s Aid Society

The Children’s Aid Society is Looking for Foster Parents

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foster Over 150 years ago, Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society, worked to find safe homes and caring families for the thousands of homeless, abused and orphaned children living on the streets of New York City. That program, called the Orphan Train Movement, is recognized as the foundation of the United States’ modern-day foster care system.

Adoption and Foster Care remains one of Children’s Aid’s highest priorities as we find nurturing homes for some of New York’s neediest children each year. In addition to offering Family Foster Care, our program also provides specialized services including Medical and Therapeutic Foster Care. For teens, we have foster care staff and services providing independent living skills with a focus on those “aging out” of foster care.

In 2009, we placed 75 children in permanent adoptive homes, and provided safety to more than 600 others via foster care. The need for safe homes continues to rise, especially for teenagers, large sibling groups and teen mother-child placements. The Children’s Aid Society is recruiting additional foster parents to offer homes to children needing support and care that their birth families aren’t able to provide. Foster Parenting is a challenging and rewarding way to make a difference in the life of a child. If you, or someone you know, are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent, please call us at 212.949.4962 for more information. Basic requirements for foster parents include:

  1. Applicants must be over the age of 21. They can be single, married, or in a domestic partnership.
  2. Applicant must be self-sufficient. Applicant’s income can be from employment, pension, or social security.
  3. Applicant must complete a state screening/background check.
  4. Applicant must complete 30 hours of Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training, basic training for all foster parent applicants.
  5. Applicant must be in good physical and mental health and have completed physical exams for every household member.
  6. Applicant must be the lease holder to his or her own apartment or home.
  7. Applicant must identify an emergency child care person.

Please consider making an incredible difference in the life of a child in need of a home by providing critical support and care that would otherwise be missing from his or her life.

Richard R. Buery, Jr. Salutes First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative to Fight Childhood Obesity

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President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society Says Agency’s Programs in Line with First Lady’s Objectives

Many of us have watched with deep concern as the children in our communities have become overweight or obese seemingly overnight. The problem is national, affecting one in three children in the U.S. And according to First Lady Michelle Obama the problem is worse in African-American and Latino communities, affecting one in two children.

The First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative to tackle childhood obesity, announced on February 9, could not come at a more opportune time. Childhood obesity is known to contribute to high blood pressure in children and type 2 diabetes; these are illnesses that we used to see only in adults and that can affect children for their entire lives.

As Ms. Obama stated, it’s about how children feel, not how they look. When children eat healthfully and move more they will feel better and have more energy. Vulnerable children are constantly barraged with messages encouraging them to eat heavily processed foods. Let’s Move seeks to give parents the tools they need to help children get and stay healthy.

At The Children’s Aid Society, we are working to combat childhood obesity. Our Go!Healthy initiative educates children about wellness and the joys of healthful cooking and eating from birth through adolescence and beyond. Our health providers have even been able to measure BMI in almost 90% of their young patients – well over the national norm. (For more information about Children’s Aid’s Go!Healthy initiatives, please visit our nutrition pages.

Children’s Aid emphasizes healthful eating, relaxation techniques and movement (including yoga) for children and their parents. We introduce youth to the pleasures of preparing and enjoying “real food” that is both nutritious and delicious: an essential step toward health and well-being. We have an innovative foodservice program in which meals for children in our community centers are cooked from scratch and based on whole and fresh foods, especially fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And we advocate for policy changes that enable parents to make healthy choices in their neighborhoods.

I envision a world where affordable and healthy fruit and vegetables are as easily available to children as potato chips and soda. In our programs, we have shown parents that achieving better health for their children and themselves can be fun! As the First Lady said when she described her initiative, small changes add up, and incremental changes can start making us all feel better right now. Let’s Move!

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
President & Chief Executive Officer
The Children’s Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct

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image010The East Harlem Center was crawling with cops on the night of January 27th, and the community could not have been happier. The East Harlem Head Start hosted an informational forum titled, "Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct." The forum was held in response to some neighborhood safety concerns. Over the last few years, the East Harlem Head Start program has been working on building better relationships between their immigrant families and the local police officers. There have been neighborhood safety concerns around the fact that many serious crimes have gone unreported by immigrant families due to fear of deportation, misinformation and a general lack of knowledge of available resources.

In collaboration with the 23rd Precinct, NYPD administration, the District Attorney's Office and Senator Serrano, the Forum addressed many of the families concerns and aimed at clearing up confusion. Topics included:  distinction between NYPD and Immigration, Executive Order 41, 311 vs. 911, acceptable forms of ID, resources throughout the police department, and general public safety tips. A representative from the 2010 Census also spoke about the importance of being counted in the upcoming Census. panel

A strong panel of presenters were able to provide a significant amount of information and answers to the audience's questions. Presenters included: Senator Jose M. Serrano (New York State Senator for the 28th District); Chief Philip Banks III (Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan North); Deputy Inspector William Pla (Commanding Officer of the 23rd Precinct); Captain Santana (Executive Officer - 23rd Precinct); Sgt. Gary Giersbach (Commanding Officer of the Youth Office – 23rd Precinct); Officer Oliver Matos (Youth Officer -23rd Precinct); Officer Frank Galindo (Community Affairs Officer-23rd Precinct); Officer Miguel Murphy (Community Affairs Officer 23rd Precinct); Officer Rios (Domestic Violence - 23rd Precinct); Sgt.  Lizbeth Villafane (Commanding Officer of the New Immigrant Outreach Unit); Chief Coppuchi (PSA5 Housing); Maria De La Rosa (Deputy Director of Community Affairs for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office); Cesar Vasquez:  (23rd Precinct’s Community Council President); Andres Mares Muro (U.S. Census Bureau).

Head Start parents Nicole McClammy and Brenda Colon introduced the panelists and Maria Diaz shared a success story from working with the Precinct.

The audience appreciated the strong NYPD presence and the beginning of an important on-going dialogue about how to build more trusting relationships throughout the community. A follow-up forum, focusing specifically on immigration issues, is being planned for March.

Teens preview Coca Cola Super Bowl Ad at Dunlevy Milbank!

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image002 A week before the big game, approximately 50 teens were among the first in the nation to preview Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl XLIV ads at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club in Harlem.

The teens listened to presentations from Coca-Cola and Facebook executives and learned about a tie-in program that allows Facebook users to join Coca-Cola in making a positive difference in their communities by benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The new Facebook initiative will allow Coca-Cola fans to give a virtual gift to their friends on Facebook. For every gift, Coca-Cola will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Club of America with a goal of $250,000.

Children’s Aid CEO Richard Buery Discusses Obama's State of the Union Address

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image001As the chief executive of one of New York's largest children's services organizations, I found a lot to applaud in President Obama’s State of the Union address before Congress. The domestic initiatives he announced, including doubling the child care tax credit, passing a job-creation bill, revitalizing community colleges, creating a college tuition tax credit and expansion of the Pell grant program can make a profound difference for the nation's children and families.

We share the President's central vision -- that children's success should not depend on where they live, but on their potential. Early in his speech, he described reading letters from children asking "Why do I have to move away from my home?" or "When will my parents find jobs?" As the President and Congress move forward on health reform, education reform, and job creation, we hope that they will continue to pay attention to the voices of those children. As we work to improve access to higher education and create jobs with living wages, we cannot forget the particular challenges faced by teens aging out of foster care or those being released from juvenile detention facilities. As we strive to reform public education, we must remember that the most successful educational program cannot serve a child who is too sick to attend school regularly, too hungry to focus when they get there, and too stressed because of an unstable home environment.

Reflecting on the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens Union v. FEC, the President accurately bemoaned the power of money in politics. Too often, our laws fail to take account of the needs of poor and vulnerable children who do not lobby, donate to elected officials, or vote. We hope that Congress heeds the President's call to do business differently. We must stand for the needs of vulnerable children who cannot stand for themselves. We at The Children's Aid Society are ready to work with this administration to fulfill our mission: to bridge the gap between what children have and what they need to thrive.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
CEO and President
The Children’s Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Children’s Aid is an Official 2010 Census Partner!

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Photo Courtesy of The Census Bureau The Children’s Aid Society encourages all the residents of its communities in New York City to participate in the 2010 Census. “It’s important that everyone be counted,” said Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. Every year, more than $300 billion in federal funds are awarded to states and communities for new hospitals, schools, better transportation and social services based on the Census’ population count, which is taken every 10 years.

“It’s completely safe to respond to every Census question,” said Mr. Buery. “By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your individual answers with anyone, including federal, state and local agencies of any kind. That means, regardless of immigration status, employment status or housing situation, you should respond to the Census because your information is completely confidential.”

Children’s Aid will host several information nights so that community members can learn more about the 2010 Census. The first is Wednesday, February 17th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Dunlevy Milbank Center, 14-32 West 118th Street in Harlem. (For more information please call 212-996-1716 or download this flyer.) Also, teens from several Children’s Aid programs will be trained to convey accurate information about the 2010 Census to members of their communities, and will engage in various activities to encourage participation.

Children’s Aid Fights For Access To Healthcare For Uninsured

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insuranceThe number of uninsured Americans has increased exponentially in the last few years. According to the United States Census Bureau‘s most recent report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, approximately 46.3 million people in this country are uninsured. While Medicaid, Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program report the number of uninsured children has decreased by by 800,000, there are still 7.3 million children nationwide without insurance.

The public programs serving these children are very much in demand. In fact, enrollment in Medicaid has gone through the roof largely because of the distressed economy, giving birth to a whole new generation of enrollees who previously did not qualify for access to public healthcare. It is no surprise to learn that the American poverty level reached 13.2% in 2008, the highest level in over ten years. Now, more than ever, economically disadvantaged communities and families need guidance with navigating the public healthcare system.

The state of New York offers government-sponsored health insurance programs: Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Family Health Plus.  Additionally, New York Governor David A. Paterson recently signed legislation to make health insurance more affordable and to improve health care access for New Yorkers. Likewise, the Children’s Aid Society is committed to helping reduce the percentage of uninsured in New York City, so that no one is left behind.

Additional quote from Lorraine Gonzalez, Director, Health Care Access Program, Children’s Aid:

In the decade since New York State acted to reduce/eliminate the number of uninsured but eligible residents of the state with a program of facilitated enrollment, there have been substantive successes. As a state, we have expanded Child Health Plus eligibility to 400% of poverty; created a single statewide eligibility standard for Medicaid; eliminated resource thresholds for Medicaid; and allowed residents to self-declare income and residency in the renewal process. New York State has been a pioneer in modeling systems that help make health insurance an affordable reality for all. Governor Paterson demonstrated a commitment to help reduce/eliminate the uninsured rate in New York State for all children by expanding the federal poverty level for Child Health Plus to 400% in September 2008.  While recognizing that acclaim for the work of those invested in this cause is due, we must build upon our successes and progress in our efforts to eliminate the remaining obstacles: gaps in coverage, the need for support for navigating the health care system, and discrimination and disparities in the quality of health care for those who are publicly insured.

When it comes to health care, we know that the current federal administration acknowledges the fundamental right of all individuals to have appropriate coverage and access to health care. We are at a pivotal moment when we can make health care a reality for all with our new political capital and effective strategic planning. The Children’s Aid Society is dedicated to this effort and invites you to remain a committed partner.

Children’s Aid Responds to the Crisis in Haiti

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The Children’s Aid Society extends our deepest sympathies to the people of Haiti. Our hearts go out to the children and families struggling to survive in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The pain and suffering we see chronicled in the news each day is almost unimaginable. Children’s Aid Society has a proud tradition of providing assistance to families in need, whether in the aftermath of September 11th or Hurricane Katrina.

The people of Haiti will need help for a long time to come. Children’s Aid staff and families are responding to the crisis in Haiti through individual financial and in-kind donations, such as clothing and personal hygiene kits. If you would like to make a financial donation to the Haiti relief efforts, Charity Navigator, which monitors nonprofit agencies, offers a list of suggestions.

At this time no imminent airlifts of children from Haiti to New York are planned. However, should the opportunity arise, The Children’s Aid Society stands ready to help place orphaned Haitian children in loving and supportive homes in New York City. If you, or someone you know, might be willing to care for a Haitian child we want to hear from you. Please contact us at fosteradopt@childrensaidsociety.org with your name and the best way to reach you. We will keep you informed if there is an opportunity for volunteers to care for children escaping the devastation of the earthquake.

Children's Aid also partners with the City Bar Justice Center to assist Haitian nationals to gain Temporary Protected Status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For more information about how to file an application, contact our Office of Public Policy & Client Advocacy at (212) 358-8930 or email sharonev@childrenaidsociety.org.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.

President & Chief Executive Officer
The Children's Aid Society