The Children's Aid Blog

Next Generation Center and the Radio Rookies

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radioImagine tackling issues having to do with homosexuality, incarceration, caring for an ill parent or wondering where your next meal is coming from…and being a teen. These and other moving stories of teenagers of The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center in the Bronx are where they broadcasted on WNYC radio October 5 th through 9th during the morning news which is also posted on the radio station’s website.

Radio Rookies is a program of WNYC radio that runs one to two workshops a year throughout New York City. The program trains teenagers on all aspects of radio, from how to use recording equipment to developing stories, conducting interviews, and editing digital audio.  At the completion of the workshop, the teens have created stories that not only show off their newly acquired journalism skills, but also allows them to open the doors for the world to get a glimpse of their lives, which is not always about iPods, gossip or the latest fashion.

“I heard it on NY Public Radio and loved it so I contacted the Senior Producer, Kaari Pitkin, and invited them to do it at NGC…a year later, they contacted us because they were looking for a Bronx site and we agreed!” said Lynne Echenberg, Director of the Next Generation Center.

In a brave segment called “Best Couple,” which won her the First Hillman Foundation Sidney Award in June for socially conscious journalism, Rookie Reporter Victoria “Vikky” Cruz, a Next Generation Center participant, reports on how she and her girlfriend became the first same-sex couple to win “Best Couple” for their high school yearbook all the while keeping her sexuality a secret from her judgmental grandmother. “Not only was Vikky Cruz brave enough to tackle teenage homosexuality on public radio, she also took it on in a far more intimidating environment—high school…her commitment to honesty and justice in both of these settings earned her The Sidney,” said Charles Kaiser, Sidney Award Judge. Vikky also shared with us her journey of learning to live and cope with her mother’s physically and mentally debilitating disease Neuroacanthocytosis in her story called “My Mother’s Disease.”

If they didn’t before, these teens now know they have a voice worth listening to and stories worth sharing. Follow the link to find out more about and listen to five of the Next Generation Center Radio Rookies Giany Mejia, Marketing and Public Relations Development, Children's Aid New York

H1N1 Immunizations for all Youth in New York City Schools

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scopeWe have all heard about the H1N1 strain of flu, the so called Swine Flu, and its possible impact on New York City schools this fall. Preparation is key to prevention, and the New York City Department of Education reports that each of the city’s 1,500 public schools, including those Community Schools operated by Children’s Aid, started the year with an influenza-prevention campaign. This included posters and classroom instruction on “the basics”: covering your coughs with your elbow, and the ever-importance of washing of hands. Often. Parents were also to receive written reminders to keep their children home when they’re sick.

The New York City Health Department is also working with schools, parents and communities to minimize the spread of H1N1 among children and teachers. Key objectives include getting children vaccinated, and New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the city will offer free flu vaccines to elementary school students. (scheduled to begin in October). docfri

New York City was the first large U.S. city to be hit hard when the H1N1 virus first surfaced last spring, when hundreds of children in the city were sickened by the disease. At the Children’s Aid Society, we know that school attendance is a predictor for future successes, and keeping children healthy is always a major challenge.

Vaccinations have been one of the most important health advances in history, reports the New York Times. The free vaccinations provided to the more than one million New York City School District students will mostly be a nasal mist, rather than a shot, according to the AP. Along with basic common sense prevention, we’ll be able to make a difference!

Correction:  Thanks to our Facebook friend Janay Bouroughs, we have changed the flu name to the correct name, H1N1.

Domestic Violence - Part 2: The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

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It is estimated that at least 10 – 20% of American children are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The effects on children vary widely. Some children are very resilient and continue to function in relatively healthy ways. But many children suffer from long-term effects. DV1014

Children who see, hear or are aware of violence against at home are much more likely to get hurt themselves – either by getting hit directly or being ‘caught in the crossfire’ and hurt accidentally. Even when they are not hurt physically, they are usually hurt emotionally. They are much more likely to get in trouble for fighting with peers, do poorly in school, be diagnosed with learning disorders, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or other mental health problems like depression or anxiety. As adolescents, they are at greater risk of substance abuse, dating violence, suicide, and a whole host of other social and emotional problems.

The cycle of violence in a family all too often repeats itself from generation to generation. And it impacts not only the family, but all of society, not only because of the cost in the health care and criminal justice arenas, but because those same child witnesses are more likely to grow up to commit not only intimate partner abuse, but many other forms of violence in the community. If a child you know is being exposed to domestic violence, call one of the numbers below to find out how you can 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 (TDD 866-331-8453)

Macy's at its Best!

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On September 28-29, over 200 corporate volunteers from Macy’s partnered with The Children’s Aid Society and The United Way to revitalize CAS’s Dunleavy Milbank Center in Central Harlem.  The project enabled Macy’s employees to select projects that interested them such as reading with our daycare students, refurbishing rooms, planting in the courtyard, exercising with our recreation participants, or reorganizing the library.

Macy’s participants were able to use their specific talents to enhance their work at Milbank; for example, members of Macy’s Design Team put their creativity to good use by designing, painting and decorating the multi-purpose room and the arts & crafts studio.

We are very grateful to Macy’s for contributing to The Children’s Aid Society in such a dynamic and hands-on fashion. Like all of our corporate volunteer projects, the two-day event was mutually beneficial for Macy’s and Children’s Aid— it gave volunteers the opportunity for fun and team-building and taught them about their city and provided Milbank with the needed resources for capital improvements and engaging activities for our after-school program. The Macy’s project breathed new life into our center—the Milbank staff and students were thrilled to have Macy’s visit!

For information how you or your company can get connected with volunteer opportunities, contact Scott McLeod at 212-381-1173.

Children's Aid Supports Juvenile Justice Programs

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From the New York Times to Georgetown University, voices in the policy arena are calling for new ideas for the juvenile justice system. The Children’s Aid Society has been a leader in operating its juvenile justice programs, and is helping build a system that supports adolescents’ emotional, educational, and physical well-being, with rehabilitation and re-entry as hallmarks of success. 109cas

To help keep children out of the justice system in the first place, The Children’s Aid Society provides educational support services for students seeking a general equivalency diploma (GED). The Children’s Aid Society also helps youths train for and obtain employment. Children’s Aid Society, through its Persons in Need of Supervision – Designated Assessment Services program also intervenes directly in delinquent children’s lives, assigning social workers to help families uncover and remedy the causes of behavioral problems.

And even when prevention falls short, the Children’s Aid Society keeps working. Through its Legal Advocacy program, Children’s Aid advocates for children’s interests in court. And once children have exited the system, Children’s Aid Society helps them re-enter their communities, avoid situations that could prompt a return to crime, and adjust back into their family lives.

Through such preventative measures and re-entry services, Children’s Aid is a leader in helping to bring about a juvenile justice system that prevents and remediates the harsh effects of juvenile delinquency.

Safe Spaces: Children's Aid Provides New York Youth's Places to Play And Develop Important Skills

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Play is an important part of every child’s development – and it’s no secret that many of New York’s neighborhoods lack safe places for children to play. The problem is so acute in some neighborhoods, like the Foxhurst section of the Bronx, that families are banding together to close streets for use as impromptu playgrounds.

To give children what many take for granted – a place to play – The Children’s Aid Society provides New York’s youths with a wide and varied array of recreational opportunities. These recreational opportunities provide a venue for this critical aspect of children’s psychological and social growth.

Scientific American reports that a lack of opportunity for free play may prevent children from growing into happy, well-adjusted adults. Studies show that playtime provides children with a way to learn and practice important life skills, like teamwork and leadership. Without this practice, children cannot become socially adept, cope with stress or build problem-solving skills. Through a wide array of opportunities like swimming, basketball or the arts, Children’s Aid helps children in building these critical skills. 

NPR reports that playtime also helps children to develop a cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function helps children to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline. This research shows that poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. The Children’s Aid Society’s structured and unstructured activities provide youths a place to develop this important self-control and discipline, along with “letting off some steam,” and just having a great time!  Just another way that The Children’s Aid Society leads by innovation in youth growth and development.

What Everyone Should Know About Domestic Violence

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This is the first in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships, being initiated in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Check back weekly for upcoming blogs on The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children, Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay, and other topics. 

The Children’s Aid Society recognizes domestic violence, also known as relationship abuse or intimate partner abuse, as one of the most pressing issues facing children, families and communities today.  Most people know someone who has been abused or abusive, even if they are not aware of it.  It can devastate families, lead to lifelong problems for the children who witness it, and contributes to a wide range of violence in the community. That is why CAS is committed to providing both education to prevent abuse and services to help families impacted by it to find safety and heal from its effects.

Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Abuse is defined as a pattern in an intimate relationship in which one partner (spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, dating partner) attempts to gain or maintain power and control over the other.  Abusers may use physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and financial tactics to establish that control. 

Anyone can be abused – this is an issue that cuts across race, culture, class, religion and sexual orientation, and teens as well as adults experience it.  The most important thing to remember is that NO ONE deserves to be abused. While victims are often convinced that they bring on the abuse themselves, this is never the case – a person who chooses to abuse someone else is always responsible for his or her own actions.

If you or someone you know is being abused or abusive, you should know that help is available. The first step is to call the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness Program or one of the hotline numbers listed below. We will listen without judgment, give you information about your options, and help you figure out the next steps. All of our services are free and confidential.

Family Wellness Program     212-503-6842
NYC Domestic Violence Hotline      1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline  1-866-331-9474 | 1-866-331-8453 TTY

Business of Giving: Community Schools Mean Real Innovation

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If President Obama’s Office of Social Innovation gets the $50 million he’s requested to help fund non-profit agencies, I’ve got a suggestion for how to best spend that money: Tackle the hardest problems first.

What are the hardest problems? As someone who's spent the last 40 years working with disadvantaged children, two top my list: teen pregnancy and public education.

In this article, I'll discuss teen pregnancy. Despite decades of intervention, the US still has the highest pregnancy rate in the developing world. Each year, 4 out of 20 teens will get pregnant. In 2006, nearly half a million babies were born to girls between the ages of 15-19 in the US. These numbers frustrate me immensely because I see evidence everyday that with the right interventions, our country can reverse this trend.

At The Children’s Aid Society, we have taken a holistic approach to teen-pregnancy prevention. The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is based on what we know for sure: Hope is a powerful contraceptive.

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, CEO

The United Kingdom Takes A Cue From The Children's Aid Society's Community School Model

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Members of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee of the UK Parliament visited New York City to study first-hand The Children’s Aid Society Community Schools. The 13 members of Parliament toured Community School I.S. 218 in Washington Heights - greeted by the principal, June Barnett, as well as members of the National Technical Assistance Center for Community Schools (NTACCS). The Children's Aid Society operates the NTACCS to assist educators, community leaders, funders and policymakers in adapting The Children's Aid Society school model.

The members of Parliament toured the student wellness center, family room, orthodontic clinic, classrooms and auditorium, and heard presentations about community schools and services provided there. They had much to see and learn: in 2010, all of the schools in England will become extended schools, which are based in part on Children’s Aid’s full service model. On their fast-paced tour, the group posed questions about school-based services, parent involvement, narrowing the achievement gap, and inspiring student self-esteem and motivation — all integral parts of The Children’s Aid Society’s model.

There has also been a valuable link between The Children’s Aid Society and Scotland for 10 years, with our successful model contributing to the implementation of similar schools there. Scottish educators keep abreast of Children’s Aid’s Community Schools developments with yearly visits. Education, like the child who is ready to learn, has no boundaries!

The community schools strategy works in part because parental involvement yields results, as does providing children with enriched learning during out-of-school time. And on-site medical, dental and mental health services are all a part of the legacy of The Children’s Aid Society founder Charles Loring Brace’s vision. Children do better in school when the major influences on their development — family, school and community resources — work together.

Children's Aid Receives Ninth 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator!

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The Children’s Aid Society is the first-ever recipient of a ninth consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator,  the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator! Designated for its “exceptional financial health,” Children’s Aid earned its latest four-star rating for its ability to “consistently execute its mission in a fiscally responsible way,” according to a letter from Ken Berger, President and Chief Executive Officer of the charity evaluator.

Berger’s letter also noted that Children’s Aid’s “ ‘exceptional’ designation from Charity Navigator differentiates The Children’s Aid Society from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”

Children’s Aid, founded in 1853, has created programs and services for families and children in need for over 156 years.  As times change and the needs of children, families and immigrants have changed, Children’s Aid has established centers and schools, opened clinics, and developed services where in New York City they are needed most.

“We are thrilled that Charity Navigator has recognized Children’s Aid’s ability to serve the impoverished children of New York City effectively and use donations wisely and efficiently,” said C. Warren Moses,  Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Aid Society. “We intend to maintain our fiscal health while continuing to innovate to meet the needs of children and families today.

“I am especially pleased that during the past fiscal year, donations from individuals actually increased by more than 10 percent, personal donations by Trustees went up and our Board approved an expense budget that included an additional $1.47 million to help sustain ‘lifeline’ programs for our families during the fiscal crisis,” he added.