The Children's Aid Blog

Children's Aid Youth and Parents Rally to Save After-School Programs

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By: Keyla Espinal

On Thursday June 16th, hundreds of children, parents and youth services employees gathered outside the offices of Mayor Bloomberg in hopes that he would hear their chants of “After-school, yes, budget cuts, no!” Members of The Children’s Aid Society, NYC Youth Alliance and the Coalition for Out-of-School Time marched towards City Hall to rally against the proposed budget cuts to youth programs and services. Youth from all five boroughs, many of whom take part in Out-of-School Time programming such as after-school, Beacon and summer youth employment programs, expressed how important these services are in providing enriching opportunities for young people and helping working parents stay employed.

Representing The Children’s Aid Society were parents and youth from the East Harlem Center, Goodhue Center and the Dunlevy Milbank Center. Several parents took to the podium to address the crowd and talk about how these programs give their children a safe and engaging place to go between the time school gets out and the end of the work day. Also showing their support and speaking out on behalf of all youth services were New York City Council Members Gale A. Brewer and Jumaane D. Williams.

The rally’s main goal was to let City Council Members and the Mayor know that youth programs are vital to the future of all children in New York City.

Please visit our Take Action Page to learn how you can contact the Mayor and City Council to demand that the cuts be restored before the June 30th budget deadline.

Photos: Giany Mejia

Children’s Aid Community School Honored with Excellence in School Wellness Award

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By: Stefania Patinella

This month, P.S. 152 – The Dyckman Valley School, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, was awarded an Excellence in School Wellness Award by The New York City Strategic Alliance for Health (NYCSAfH). On June 21st, NYCSAfH will honor the 2011 award recipients at a special ceremony hosted by elected officials.

P.S. 152 is a model of a school in which a culture of wellness can take root by engaging the community. This year, responding to the community need, Children’s Aid offered students the Go!Healthy parent cooking and nutrition program, a new gardening program and a Go!Chefs kids cooking and nutrition education program. In addition, young chefs from P.S. 152 were the elementary division winners of the 2011 Iron Go!Chefs kids cooking competition! The Children’s Aid Society is proud to be recognized for its efforts in promoting healthy eating and wellness.

Photo: The Children's Aid Society

Children’s Aid Youth Stand Up for After-School Programs, Present Petitions to Council Member Jackson

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Photos and Text by Keyla Espinal

On June 8th, in recognition of the New York City Youth Alliance and The Coalition for Out-of-School Time's "Last Symbolic Day of After-School," students from the Mirabal Sisters Campus, a Children’s Aid Society Community School in Washington Heights, paid a visit to Council Member Robert Jackson's district office. Their visit was part of a larger advocacy mission to save after-school programming. Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council are currently negotiating the budget, which proposes to cut $23 million in Out-of-School-Time (OST) funding. Such drastic reductions would eliminate 16,000 after-school slots.

Children's Aid students presented signed petitions to Ms. Susan M. Russell, Chief of Operations and General Counsel and Ms. Shellie Williams, Scheduler for Councilmember Jackson. The youth also shared their feelings about their after-school program and the positive changes it has had on their lives. The cooking club, a component of Mirabal Sisters Campus after-school program, is an example of how this very important service is providing students with critical life skills for adulthood and possibly even a career in the culinary arts.

The visit to Council Member Jackson’s office is part of a larger movement that the Coalition has had in place for months now. Students from all around the New York City who take part in Out-of-School Time programming such as after-school and Beacon, are going to their local Council Member's office to drop off petitions, show the importance of afterschool programs and thank those council members who have been tireless OST advocates and supporters.

After-school programs provide enriching opportunities for young people and help working families. Please visit our Take Action Page to learn how you can contact the Mayor and City Council to demand that the cuts be restored before the June 30th budget deadline.

Empowering Parents for 25 Years

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On Friday, June 3rd, the The Children's Aid Society Parent Family Life & Sexuality Education program (PFLSE) held its 25th graduation ceremony at Hunter College. This year's class was comprised of 125 parents who, after taking the course, are better able to talk to their children about pregnancy prevention and overall sexual health. Realizing the importance of sexual education in their children’s development and their own roles as primary sexual educators, PFLSE parents attend a five month long workshop to improve their sexual literacy and their communication skills with family members.

“I think that now what we should do is talk to our communities, our families and our relatives and tell them to take this class” said Susana Ramos, a parent from The Dyckman Valley School, a Children’s Aid Community School, who also admits that she will sneak into the next class even though she has graduated from the program. Elizabeth Mariano whose daughter attends The Bronx Preparatory Charter School said that she had considered herself a hip parent “of the now,” but learned much more about herself and her community after attending the workshop. The program also provides parents with the opportunity to examine their own experiences with sexual education and empowers them with the tools necessary to prevent their children from becoming parents earlier in life.

Congratulations to all the staff and graduating parents who are committed to appropriately educating and informing today’s youth about the often awkward subject that is sexuality!

It's not too late to save childcare and early childhood education

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Despite the scorching heat, a large group of advocates, children and parents delivered 30,000 petitions to New York City Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to save childcare and early childhood education (view the photo gallery here). City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diana Reyna and Margaret Chin each spoke out against the proposed budget cuts. Thank you to our supporters too, who helped Children’s Aid contribute over 2,300 signatures!

But we’re not done fighting yet.  City budget negotiations are happening right now. The Coalition to Save Childcare is staging a call-in today and Friday to key city officials.  It only takes a minute – and we’ve provided all the details here, including the names of the officials, their numbers and a short script of what you can say. 

Call-in days are Thursday, June 9, 2011 and Friday, June 10, 2011.

Call Speaker Quinn at (212) 564-7757 and tell her to make sure child care is funded in the final budget.

Call the Mayor’s Budget Director, Mark Page, at (212) 788-5900 and tell him child care must be saved.

Call the Deputy Mayor, Howard Wolfson, at (212) 788-3070 and tell him child care must be saved.

Use this script as a guide for your call:

Hi, my name's ________. I'm calling to urge ________ to Save Child Care.

These cuts would mean hundreds of early childhood classrooms will be closed and fewer working families will be able to find safe, affordable child care. Without child care, working parents like me will not be able to keep our jobs and our children will lose their opportunity for a quality early education. We’re counting on you to restore the funding to save child care. Thank you.

Let us know you completed your call and how it went so we can make sure we hit our goal of 500 calls. Email the coalition at

For more information visit:

Click play below to watch talk Melissa Mark-Viverito about saving afterschool.

City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito Calls to Save After-School from The After-School Corporation on Vimeo.

East Harlem Center Artists Share Their Visions of New York City

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Thanks to a gracious invitation by UBS, youth at The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center had the opportunity to participate in New York City: Through Our Eyes, an art exhibit commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. For this special exhibit, the children created drawings of city skyscrapers which were featured alongside the work of the professional artist Stephen Wiltshire. Mr. Wiltshire contributed a sketched depiction of the entire New York City skyline, drawn from memory after having taken a helicopter ride around the city.

Prior to the art exhibit, Mr. Wiltshire paid a visit to the East Harlem Center where he worked with our own young aspiring artists. As part of his visit, the children observed and drew along with the artist as he sketched one of his favorite New York City buildings – the Empire State Building.

New York City: Through Our Eyes highlights the vitality of New York City. In addition to Stephen Wiltshire's drawing and works created by Children's Aid students, the exhibit included photos from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and artwork created by participants of the Harlem School of the Arts and the YMCA of Greater New York.

Photos courtesy of Cathleen Miles and

Children's Aid Rallies to Save OST After School Programs

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On Tuesday, May 31st more than 200 youth, parents and after-school staff rallied at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Community Center to save after-school programs for thousands of children across New York City.

Co-sponsored by The New York City Youth Alliance and the Coalition to Preserve OST Afterschool Programs, the rally participants urged the Mayor and the City Council to work together to restore more than $23 million for after-school programs (Out-of-School Time – OST – programs) in the City’s budget – 16,000 NYC children across New York City face the loss of their after-school program. NYC would lose a quarter of its after-school system if the money is not restored. The rally focused on the impact of the cuts on Manhattan programs – funding for 22 programs in Manhattan would be eliminated.

Highlights of the rally included hearing from youth and parents about the importance of after-school programs. Angel Jackson-Young, a 7th grader at Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy IV who attends the after-school program at Milbank, said that even though he would continue staying out of trouble if he had no after-school program to attend, he was not confident that his peers would stay on that same track. Mr. Rakim Smith, a single father, spoke about how thankful he is that his adolescent daughter has a safe and enriching program to attend, without which she would be home watching television. And finally, Ms. Mable Moody, a grandparent, gave a rousing talk about why we, as a city, must give our children every opportunity to succeed. The rally attendants also had the opportunity to have their voices heard by providing video testimony and writing letters to elected officials. Selena Valentin, a 14 year old who attends C.I.S. 166, a Children’s Aid Community School in the Bronx wrote that her after-school program has given her the confidence to be a leader and strive towards her dreams.

The Mayor and City Council are currently negotiating the Fiscal Year 2012 City budget, which begins in July 1st. The next weeks are critical.

To advocate for after-school programs, please see our Take Action page.

Children’s Aid Keeps the Arts Alive!

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On Friday, May 20th, the theater stage at El Museo del Barrio was full of dynamic young performers from Children’s Aid arts programs at the 14th Annual Spring Concert. Cheerleaders from the Mirabel Sisters Campus in Washington Heights energized the crowd pep rally style, while elementary school kids from The Phillip Coltoff Center’s Junior Chorus performed a lively rendition of "Lollipop" complete with choreography. The performances didn’t end there, the audience at El Museo del Barrio clapped and sang along with the excited performers the entire night. The Drew Hamilton Harmony in Harlem Jazz Band performed masterpieces by M. Santamaria and Miles Davis. The evening also included stimulating words from professional performers who talked about the impact the arts have had in their lives. Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox encouraged the student artists to stay motivated and discussed the role arts classes played in her success as a performer. Professional dancers Corinne Tighe and Lisa Matsuoka described their experiences balancing their dance careers with other professional interests. The night concluded with inspirational words from stage veteran Sandra Reaves-Phillips who joined all of the young performers for a stirring rendition of the song “Lean on Me.”

Students receive $1,500 to implement cardiovascular health awareness project in their school

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Thanks to a grant from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, The Children’s Aid Society awarded $1,500 to a group of students from MS293 City College Academy of the Arts last week. The students will use the funds to implement a cardiovascular health awareness project at Salome Ureña Campus next school year, a Children’s Aid Society Community School.

The student’s proposal includes sponsoring healthy cooking classes for their classmates and organizing several farmers markets in the school’s front yard which will be open to the community. The students in the winning team are Yerika Cuevas, Genesys Durán, Luz Hiraldo, Lisbeth Rosado and Janay Salcedo. In her presentation, Janay indicated that one of the reasons affecting the health outcomes of her peers is the poor access to healthy food.  “We want to open up their minds to see that healthy food can also be tasty” said Janay.

The winning proposal was selected among five projects presented by high school juniors from the City College Academy of the Arts. These students have also been receiving a semesterof classes on cardiovascular health risks and healthy cooking sponsored by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations.

The students will be assisted by Children’s Aid Society staff in the completion of their project.

Photo courtesy of Ben Russell. From left to right, Migdalia Cortes-Torres, Children’s Aid Society Community School Director, Dr. Burnedette Drysdale, MS293 principal, students JanaySalcedo, Lisbeth Rosado, Genesys Durán, and Yerika Cuevas, and Adria Cruz, Children’s Aid Society School Health Services Manager

2011 CoWAP Conference Preview

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The second conference of the NYC Coalition on Working with Abusive Partners (CoWAP) will take place on June 2nd at The Conference Center at JP Morgan Chase. Entitled One Size Does Not Fit All: Advancing the Dialogue on Working with Abusive Partners, this year's conference is "designed for anyone working in the anti-domestic violence movement, as well as other legal and social service professionals who work with survivors, abusers, teens and children impacted by domestic violence and relationship abuse. Experts in the area of domestic violence prevention and intervention will discuss the research, strategies and controversies surrounding abusive partner intervention and prevention."

To register for the conference, please visit

Click "play" below to hear Kerry Moles, Director of Family Wellness at Children's Aid and Co-Chair of CoWAP, discuss the upcoming CoWAP conference.