The Children's Aid Blog

Congratulations to Francisco Núñez, Former CAS Music Director, Newly Named 2011 MacArthur Fellow

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The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is proud to share that Francisco Núñez, past director of music for CAS and founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) was named one of 22 MacArthur Fellows in 2011.  As a recipient, Núñez's will receive a $500,000 fellowship over the course of five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to continue his work with his youth chorus program that targets inner-city students.  The unique feature of this fellowship is that it does not have reporting requirements or other stipulations, providing Núñez with the freedom to carry out his good work at his own pace—no strings attached.

He has served as founder and artistic director of YPC since its inception in 1988 as part of CAS.  Today, with over one thousand young people in five after-school choruses and thirteen choruses in its Satellite School Program in inner-city public schools, Núñez's YPC exposes young singers to an unmatched variety of music and music makers. Núñez held the position of director of music at CAS for nine years.

Photo credit: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Gotham Schools: Venerable Social Services Group Wades into School Management

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As a Bronx elementary school principal, Drema Brown routinely encountered students who were struggling to complete schoolwork without adequate health care, a stable address, or even electricity.

Challenges like those held Brown back from boosting academic achievement. Even worse, she said, she couldn’t solve the problems wrought by poverty, either.

“I might take it for granted that I can just take my daughter to an eye doctor’s appointment and I have insurance that is going to get her that $300, $400 pair of glasses. But sometimes in a school something as simple as that could languish for an entire school year,” said Brown, who headed P.S. 230 in the South Bronx’s District 9 from 2003 to 2007.

Now a top official at the Children’s Aid Society, the 158-year-old social services provider, Brown is leading an experiment in integrating health and social services into a school setting. Children’s Aid is set to open its charter school in the Morrisania section of the Bronx next fall. The Board of Regents formally approved the school’s charter earlier today.

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The Early Days of The Children’s Aid Society

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In the 1850’s an estimated 30,000 children, ranging in age from 6 to 18, lived homeless and neglected in the streets of New York City. In these same streets The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) was founded by Charles Loring Brace, who believed that there was a way to improve the futures of homeless children. The Orphan Trains, CAS’s first program for helping children move out of poverty, placed them in homes with stable and morally upright farm families in states out west. Brace believed that this would give these children the chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

The Orphan Train Movement and the success of other Children's Aid initiatives led to a host of child welfare reforms, including child labor laws, adoption and the establishment of foster care services, public education, the provision of health care and nutrition and vocational training.

To learn more about the Orphan Train Movement, watch this video by the New York Historical Society.

Richard Buery on Census Bureau’s Report on Poverty in America

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“In a country that has reduced taxes on the wealthiest citizens and balanced the budget on the backs of the neediest, it is shameful that 1 in 6 Americans are below the poverty line,” said Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. “Lack of access to basic nutrition disrupts every aspect of life for those it affects. It is particularly devastating for children, who may suffer from serious long-term health problems, development issues and difficultly learning as a result. The government has a responsibility to its residents to reinstate funding for programs that address food insecurity and to provide basic services for the most vulnerable members of our community. One way to remedy the problem here in New York is to reinstate the Personal Income Tax on the wealthiest.”

Protect Your Child Against Cyber Bullying

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With the school year in full swing, children throughout the city are becoming reacquainted with their school day routines. Along with their text books and reading projects, approximately 38% of girls and 26% of boys, have reported that cyber bullying is a sad fact they have to live with. Cyber bullying is a modern way for children to anonymously harass and humiliate their peers via social networking sites, email, instant messages or text messages and the saddest aspect of cyber bullying is that it is often very, very public.

This summer, the New York City Council convened with parents, youth and educators to discuss ways in tackling this devastating behavior. The following are some tips for parents on how to prepare their children for responsible participation in the cyber-world:

1. Closely monitor the history on the computer your child uses to track the websites they visit.
2. Set up Google alerts for your child's name to track what is being said about him/her on the internet.
3. Keep computers in a public space so that you can easily supervise what your child is doing online.
4. Check your child's status updates regularly.
5. Talk to your child against using applications that allow for anonymous posting on social-networking sites like Facebook.

Click here to learn more about cyber bullying and for more tips on how to protect your child on and off the internet.

Richard Buery on The Huffington Post: Nonprofits Need Vets to Build the Nation

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"Because of their commitment to positive social change and dynamic work environments, nonprofits offer veterans unique opportunities to continue their service to America, and the sector can use the support."

Last week, in front of a crowd at the annual American Legion convention, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to reducing unemployment among our nation's veterans. President Obama has proposed a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for those companies that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans with a disability.

I applaud President Obama for this solution which both boosts small businesses during a time of economic turmoil and provides jobs for our nation's brave soldiers. However, I would also encourage our president not to overlook the nonprofit sector and the tremendous opportunities these organizations provide for veterans to continue their service in support of our most vulnerable citizens.

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Jane Quinn and Sarah Jonas Address Youth Work in New Book

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The Children’s Aid Society’s very own Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools and Sarah Jonas, Director of the Regional Initiatives Department, pave the way for more effective youth work with their contribution to the newly released book, Advancing Youth Work.

In this book, seasoned professionals come together to share their expertise and observations of the field of youth work. 

“As youth work practitioners, Sarah Jonas and I were both very pleased to be invited to contribute our ideas to this ground-breaking volume” says Jane Quinn. “Sarah's chapter describes The Children's Aid Society's approach to supporting the quality of our after-school and summer programs through the professional development of our staff, and mine examines the opportunities and challenges across the youth work field as collectively we seek to improve practice and demonstrate results. The publication of this book is timely, as we launch a new school year. We are living in an era when our nation is struggling to identify effective ways to expand learning opportunities for our young people. This book will surely add a constructive voice to the debate, with its focus on the critical role of youth workers in promoting the learning and healthy development of children and adolescents in communities across America.”

The experiences shared in this book highlight the various trends and differences in youth work among programs. Additionally, questions are raised about the the education and training necessary to advance youth worker capabilities.

Visit the Advancing Youth Work facebook page to learn more and to receive a 20% discount code.

Healthy Foods Take Over East Harlem

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Earlier this month, participants of The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) attended an event at Union Settlement in East Harlem where Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and the stars of Super Sprowtz, an nutritional education series, talked to over 200 children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the event, CAS youth were given a $2 Youth Buck to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables at the Harvest Home-Union Settlement Market, located at 104th Street and Third Avenue. The Youth Bucks program is a collaboration of Go Green and the NYC Department of Health and is intended to encourage youth to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets. Click here to read more on this event and how the Manhattan Borough President is helping teach the next generation about healthier food choices.

Check out our Go!Healthy program to learn how Children's Aid is educating children about wellness and healthy eating.

Above: Kids from the Children's Aid Society sport the Super Power 'S' sign after the Super Sprowtz show.

Photo credit:

Children's Aid Employee Wins Golden Heart Award

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Donna Chandler's years of service to The Children’s Aid Society’s Drew Hamilton Center in Harlem have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Donna (pictured at right), the Early Childhood Educational Director at Drew Hamilton, has been awarded the Golden Heart Award by the Center for Children’s Initiative (CCI) as part of the CCI’s 2011 Champions for Children Awards. The Early Childhood Program at The Children’s Aid Society nominated Donna for this award because of her tireless efforts in advocating for the children and families of the center and community.

Margaret Caspe, Director of Early Childhood Programs at Children's Aid, wrote of Donna, “Her unconditional love and understanding for children’s needs is evident everyday when she demands a safe and stimulating environment for the children she serves. She often comes to work at 6 a.m. and often leaves well after 7 p.m. all in the effort to make sure that all responsibilities are fulfilled, including kitchen and custodial.”

Donna, along with the other award recipients will be honored at the CCI annual Champions for Children Awards Gala on October 24th.  The event recognizes professionals and organizations for their efforts in early child care and education. Congratulations Donna!

Metamorphosis: Ailey/CAS Camp Washington Heights Finale

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Written by: Giany Mejia

Photography by: Giany Mejia

For dozens of children who spent their summer months as part of The Children’s Aid Society (CAS)/Ailey Camp Washington Heights, the closure to their summer experience was right on stage for all to see. Campers celebrated the end of summer with a big production for friends and family, marking emotional growth and maturity with splits, leaps and drums.

On Thursday, August 11th, the CAS/Ailey Camps Washington Heights held its culminating event, their end of summer camp finale performance, in the main theatre at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Colorful, inspiring and moving choreography, poetry and drums transported the audience to a place far beyond the busy traffic outside on the Grand Concourse.

CAS/Ailey Camp empowers young people by helping them develop a strong sense of self-esteem, self-expression and mastery. Each summer, 80 Children’s Aid campers (ages 10 to 14) from throughout New York City spend the summer learning the basic techniques of ballet, modern dance, jazz and tap.

“To see that when things come together right, when you have good schools, when you have good programs, when you have wonderful arts, that it can unleash this incredible power that young people have” said Bill Weisberg, The Children’s Aid Society’s Chief Operating Officer in his opening remarks.  “The whole world needs to be reminded that when things come together right, we support children in the right way, this beauty is unleashed.”

Find out more about the CAS/Ailey Camp.