The Children's Aid Blog

"Mr. Martin" and Our Education Exchange

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By Tamara Royal, Education Director for P.S. 5 Head Start, a Children's Aid Society Community School

During a visit to The Children's Aid Society P.S.  5 Community School, a teachable moment swam by as we concluded the tour in Swindler Cove Park. Martin Bates, Superintendent of the Granite School District, Salt Lake City, Utah, didn't just suggest we study the life cycle of tadpoles, he immediately rolled up his sleeves, fetched a bucket and adopted a tadpole for NYC children to study.  Mr. Bates caught the tadpole on the very first try too!

The Head Start teachers and children were so excited they all wanted to adopt tadpoles for their classroom science center.  The namesake "Mr. Martins" are wiggling around and feasting on fish food and lettuce!

This year, we are thankful that Martin Bates scooped up a bucketful of science inspiration.  On behalf of the staff, children and all future frogs,we want to extend a special thank you to Martin Bates, for visiting and sharing his enthusiasm for education.  Muchas Gracias!

NY Ranger Steve Eminger Helps Launch Hockey Program at Milbank

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Steve Eminger, defensive player for the NY Rangers, joined a group of 30 eager children on Thursday, November 17 to launch The Garden of Dreams and Rangers Power Players Program at the Dunlevy Milbank Center.

The Garden of Dreams Foundation and the NY Rangers designed the six-week street hockey program to teach children ages 10-14 the basics of the game as well as to pique children’s interest in hockey as a recreational sport.  In partnership with three organizations including The Children’s Aid Society, the program offers children a chance to participate in a street hockey, which is not a sport that is typically accessible to children from low-income, high-needs communities.  The program removes some of the barriers to hockey by providing the necessary equipment for gameplay and knowledgeable coaches to help children understand the finer points of the game.

At the Power Players launch party, children learned how to properly hold the hockey stick, pass the puck, and how to shoot.  The program provides children with their team’s t-shirts (green and purple) as well as hockey sticks, street-hockey balls, goalie padding and sticks, and goal nets.

Children at Milbank will meet on Wednesday afternoons for skill building activities, practice and gameplay, coached by members of the NY Rangers staff, Tim Webb and Jason Negron.

Following six-weeks of skill-building activities, the program will culminate in January/February 2012 with a 3-hour round robin tournament with all teams in the program.  Participants will earn a medal, certificate of completion and a NY Rangers Jersey following the tournament.

For more information about the Garden of Dreams and NY Rangers Power Players Program at Milbank, contact Casper Lassiter at (212) 996-1716 or

Cheery Volunteers Bundle Up Dunlevy Milbank Center

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October’s random snow storm may have left many wondering if their wardrobe is ready for this hard to predict weather but many Children’s Aid Society children are more than prepared. Thanks to a group of 24 volunteers from Bank of New York Mellon, approximately 200 after-school program participants at the Dunlevy Milbank Center, a Children’s Aid Society Community Center in Harlem, received brand new winter coats and gloves last week.

These energetic volunteers left work early to serve as personal shoppers in the Center’s dance studio, helping each child to choose their best size and fit to keep them extra warm this season.   In addition to this unique personalized shopping experience, volunteers also ensured that the event ran smoothly by restocking the coat racks, labeling and bagging the children’s new treasures, and helping them to choose the perfect pair of fluffy gloves to match.  In the gym, almost all modeled their new attire for each other and excitedly compared their colorful styles.

This year’s coat distribution was an amazing display of corporate engagement and volunteerism by Children’s Aid partner, Bank of New York Mellon. The Children’s Aid Society welcomes corporate groups from across New York City to participate in sponsored volunteer projects such as gardening projects, mural painting, special events, financial literacy training and many others. We are so grateful to our BNY Mellon volunteers who visited Milbank to bundle up our young people, and warm our hearts.

Photos Courtesy of Malia Poai

Laid Off from St. Vincent's and Struggling to Provide

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about Chonise Blackman and her family. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

Ever since her high school took her on a college tour, Natalia Burks has had her heart set on going to Morgan State University in Baltimore to study forensic science. She has no connection to Baltimore, having grown up in subsidized housing on Edgecombe Avenue in West Harlem. But there was something about the romance of that tour that made Ms. Burks, now 18, believe she could go outside the customary boundaries of her life.

She took night remedial classes for six months so she could graduate on time with the rest of her class at Manhattan/Hunter Science High School, a small public school on the Upper West Side. She graduated in June, a year after her mother, Chonise Blackson, was laid off from St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan, where she had worked for 23 years.

“ ‘I really want to make money, Ma,’ ” Ms. Blackson recalled her saying. “ ‘I want to get you out of here.’ ”

To which Ms. Blackson replied, “You get yourself out.

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

Early Childhood Parent Policy Council Commits to Their Children and to CAS Programs

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On Wednesday, November 16th, the 2011-2012 Early Childhood Parent Policy Council was sworn into office.  The Policy Council is made up of elected officers from each of the CAS sites which run Head Start/Early Head Start programs.  Mothers, fathers, grandparents and community members came from the Frederick Douglass Center, the East Harlem Center, PS 5, PS 8, PS 152, the Bronx Early Childhood Center, and the Drew Hamilton Learning Center.  The Policy Council is a decision making group, which allows parents and community members to play a meaningful role in determining the nature and direction of their programs.  This unique group of advocates serve as a link between program management, the sites, the CAS Board and various community partners.  The Children's Aid Society congratulates the 2011-2012 Policy Council members and thanks them for their commitment to their children, to their specific programs, and to the Agency.

Blanca Aviles,  PS 152 EHS « Member
Nicole Beatty, Community Rep « Co-Chair
Saran Dore, Bronx EC « Treasurer
Rosa Hernandez, East Harlem HS « Member
Maria Leonardo, PS 8 HS « Member
Tamika Major, Drew Hamilton « Secretary
Joshua Martinez, Frederick Douglass « Chair
Kimberly Paul, PS 5 HS « Area Rep
Elizabeth Peralta, PS8 EHS « Member
Susana Ramos, PS 152 EHS « Grievance
Jennifer Rios, PS 5 EHS « Personnel
Dianelys Tavarez, Drew Hamilton « Member
Diane Williams, Frederick Douglass « Member
Abdou Yaya, Bronx EC « By-Laws
Rosa Zurita, East Harlem EHS « Member

Photo Credits:  Ana Nunez
Pictured:  Members of the 2011-2012 CAS Early Childhood Parent Policy Council

Children's Aid Helps a Family Cope With Assistance from The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story about Nicole Thornton and how assistance helped her and children cope after the death of her husband four months ago. Below is an excerpt from the original article.

In November 2009, Mr. Thornton joined a life counseling program at the Children’s Aid Society, one of seven agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. After his death, the agency contributed $1,000 to funeral expenses, $304.15 for phone and cable bills, and $368.79 for an electric bill. The family also received one month’s rent, $525, and gift cards to buy school clothes for the children.

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

Early Head Start Staff Roll-Up Their Sleeves for Learning and Fun

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The Children's Aid Society's 0-3 Early Childhood Team gathered on November 3rd for a morning of professional development.  Staff came from four different sites, each with Home Based Early Head Start models.  Teachers, Family Workers, Health Coordinators, Special Needs Coordinators, and Directors from PS 5, PS 8, PS 152 and East Harlem shared experiences, discussed child development, and exchanged best practices.  The work of this unique group of educators is centered on home visits and weekly socialization classes.  Activities and interactions are individualized to meet the needs of the child and their family. During the training, staff rolled up their sleeves to make play dough, applesauce, paper bag puppets, sensory walls, and a variety of collages.  Everyone then worked together to design a socialization class around the individual activity theme.  A fun time was had by all!




Featured: CAS Early Head Start staff from PS 5, PS 8, PS 152 and East Harlem

Photos: Moria Cappio

Wacky Tacky Day at Drew Hamilton

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October 27th was WACKY TACKY DAY at Drew.  Parents were encouraged to let the children select their own clothing to wear to school.  The excitement has begun with children welcoming each other for Wacky Tacky Day and identifying the colors and items they are wearing.  Check out the hilarious pictures!

Photo credit to Donna Chandler; children/staff from the Drew Hamilton Center in pictures.

Children’s Aid Society Community School Earns an A, Urging for More to Be Done

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As the City reports that only 25% of high school graduates are college-ready, we are proud that The Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, a Children’s Aid Society community school partner, received an A grade on its recent Department of Education report card. Principal Nancy Mann appeared on Fox 5 on Monday night to echo Children’s Aid vision of preparing students in high-needs neighborhoods for college.

“We’re doing what the City considers to be a good job,” said Principal Mann “We think there’s a lot left to do.”

The Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School serves 75% Latino and 25% Black students with nearly all of the qualifying for free or reduced price lunch, an indicator of poverty.

To see more about the recent Department of Education report card findings, click here to view the FOX 5 News report online.


NYC High Schools Graded:

Domestic Violence Part 4: How Can You Help

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This is the last in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

If you know someone who you think is being abused by their spouse or partner, here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Let them know you are worried about them and want to help. Don't tell them what to do or try to take control of the situation.
  2. Don't blame the victim, imply they did something to 'bring it on,' or tell them they are stupid for staying.  It's hard to understand why people stay in abusive relationships - some common reasons are love, belief the abuse will change, self-blame, and fear that the abuse will get worse if they try to break it off.  But the worst thing you can do if you want to help is to reinforce the idea that they are to blame.
  3. Help them to reduce isolation. Abusers often cut their victims off from friends and family members. Tell them you'll be there for them whether they decide to stay in the relationship or not.
  4. Connect them with a domestic violence advocate who can help them develop a safety plan. Call one of the numbers below to find out what resources are available in your area.

Finally, if you know someone who's being abusive, do not look the other way. Calmly express your concerns about the specific behavior that you see as abusive and make it clear that you do not believe there is any excuse for abusing another person. Suggest that they get help in order to change their behavior, and tell them you will support them in their efforts to change, but will not support abusive behavior. Do not accept excuses, justifications, “laughing it off” or victim-blaming. Call one of the numbers below to find out how to get help for the abusive person.

How to get help:

The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program   212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)

Photo via