The Children's Aid Blog

New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez Talks About the Importance of Early Childhood Education

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

On Sunday March 27, 2011, about 35 Children’s Aid Society parents attended City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s State of the District Address held at the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Campus, a Children's Aid Community School in Washington Heights.

In the Council Member’s address, he talked about his accomplishments since 2009 and shared his vision for the neighborhood going forward. Rodriguez emphasized the importance of investing in early childhood education and acknowledged The Children’s Aid Society for its work in this field. “As a former educator, the issue of education is one that I have been committed to for many years and so I cannot emphasize enough how important our children’s education is, specifically education for children ages zero to five. Scientific research has proven time and again that the biggest investment we can make is to invest in our children’s education from the start.”

In closing, Council Member Rodriguez called upon his constituents to band together in order to make their neighborhoods safer and build a thriving community. “We need to continue to work together to ensure that our community is the best that it can be. We need to help one another to find more solutions to the problems that exist.”

Click here to learn more about The Children's Aid Society's Early Childhood programs.

Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is Awarded $3.5 Million Social Innovation Fund Grant

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) has been awarded a $3.5 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) to deepen the program’s impact in New York City and replicate it nationally. CAS-Carrera is one of nine recipients in a national competition that identifies innovative programs working to solve problems confronting low-income youth in America. With this investment, CAS-Carrera plans to serve approximately 10,000-11,000 young people nationally over the next three years, a growth of up to 50%.

The Children’s Aid Society is thrilled that the Carrera Program has been selected as a national leader in improving the lives of low-income youth,” said President and CEO Richard R. Buery, Jr. “This grant will help us significantly increase the number of young people we are working with to stop early pregnancy and start them on the path to a full and productive adult life.”

Founded in 1984 by Dr. Michael A. Carrera, this evidence-based pregnancy prevention model helps young people avoid becoming parents during the second decade of their lives. The holistic program combines daily academic enrichment, with weekly exposure and experience in the world of work, mental health services, family life and sexuality education, and comprehensive no-cost medical and dental services, as well as self-expression and lifetime individual sports. The medically accurate comprehensive sexuality education component contains a consistent and strong abstinence message. The program engages young people year-round, beginning in the fifth or sixth grade, and continues through graduation from high school and beyond.

Click play below to listen to National Public Radio's interview with Dr. Michael Carrera

You may need: Adobe Flash Player.

Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, Addresses the New York State Budget Agreement

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The New York State Legislature and the Governor reached an agreement late Wednesday night on the Fiscal Year 11-12 budget, where a $10 billion shortfall was closed by spending cuts in education and health and human services. Most of these cuts will have a profoundly negative effect on New York's most vulnerable citizens.

Despite attempts by certain members of the Legislature to cover part of the shortfall by extending the “Millionaires Tax” for individuals with the highest incomes, I am disappointed that the Governor and Legislature decided that increasing the overwhelming divide between the wealthiest families and those living in poverty was the best way to balance the budget.

These cuts will be compounded when the City passes its budget in the coming months. Mayor Bloomberg, who has been an outspoken critic of the State budget agreement, said, "Make no mistake: the final budget still cuts New York City more than ever before. The restorations are merely a fraction of the $600 million necessary to avoid additional layoffs and cuts in the City's budget."

As budgets at the federal, state and local levels are negotiated, programs that support low-income and disconnected youth have been disproportionately affected. The achievement gap between children in poverty and their peers is already far too wide – and the programs being cut are ones that have proven effective in narrowing the gap with regard to academics and lifelong outcomes, while also saving taxpayer dollars in the long term.

The negotiations did result in some limited restorations of critical programs, including the rejection of $91 million of proposed cuts to human service programs. The restoration will fund summer youth employment and home visiting programs, among others. In addition, the budget does not make cuts to core child welfare services.

The final budget also rejected the Governor’s proposal to create a Primary Prevention Incentive Program (PPIP) that would have collapsed and significantly cut funding for nine programs that help New York's most vulnerable children and families, such as after-school programs, which are distributed to counties or community-based agencies. However, only $8.7 million was restored of the nearly $50 million.

Even as we applaud the rejection of PPIP, the cuts of 50% to some of these programs will have a devastating impact on the lives of children and families. The Children's Aid Society's ability to provide high-quality expanded learning opportunities through after-school and summer programs will be profoundly impacted. Cutting these program dollars unfairly diminishes the opportunities for children to break the generational cycle of poverty.

Richard Buery
President and CEO
The Children's Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Students Learning Heart Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Above: Health Educators Anne Steinfeld and Julia Linesch (not pictured) from the Healthy Promotion Learning Lab, talk to teens about the harmful ingredients in cigarrettes.

In Washington Heights, an impoverished community in upper Manhattan, approximately 47% of children are overweight or obese. Thanks to a Community Impact Grant funded by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations, 11th graders at the City College Academy of the Arts, housed at the Salome Ureña de Henríquez Campus (SUCA) in Washington Heights, are participating in weekly healthy cooking and cardiovascular health education classes to become better equipped in the fight against this epidemic.

During weekly cooking classes, students learn about healthier alternatives to fast foods and create nutritious meals on their own that they can prepare at home. The cardiovascular health education classes bring these high school juniors face to face with the risks that come along with unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. They are also learning about the lifelong ill effects of cigarette smoking and how to avoid becoming influenced by the teen-targeted advertising by cigarette companies.

"We have to do this every year! The students love the cooking classes and most importantly, they are learning to cook healthy, delicious meals” said Burnedette Drysdale, Principal of the City College Academy of the Arts. “Also, the cardiovascular health classes are so informative and eye opening; the Children's Aid Society and American Heart Association are really helping the students to understand the importance of healthy living.”

Richard Buery, Children's Aid President and CEO, Responds to the Recent Indictment of Two Former ACS Staff

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

I am deeply concerned by last week’s news of the criminal indictment of two former ACS child protective staff in connection with the horribly tragic death of four-year-old Marchella Pierce. There is no doubt that the allegations—failing to make home visits to a struggling family and falsifying case records—are very serious charges that deserve a strong response and meaningful consequences. Yet, treating these allegations as criminal is clearly unprecedented in New York. I worry about what impact doing so will have on New York City's ability to attract and retain talented staff to do the difficult and uncelebrated work of keeping New York City's most vulnerable children safe.

During the endless cycle of budget cuts these past few years, the Administration for Children's Services has seen its budget cut disproportionately when compared to the uniformed services. Make no mistake: although child protective workers do not wear uniforms, they are every bit as important to the safety of this City as New York City's bravest and finest. They do this work at great personal risk and for little pay. Ultimately, we must ensure that these indictments do not distract us from the need to reverse these systemic under-investments in the child welfare system. The children of our City will not be safe otherwise.

Ensuring the safety of the children we serve will remain at the forefront of The Children’s Aid Society’s work. Our hearts go out to Marchella.

Richard Buery
President and CEO
The Children's Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

CAS Beverage Policy: Getting a Head Start on a Healthy Lifestyle

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The new CAS Beverage Policy is in full effect. Children in the Head Start program at P.S. 5, a Children’s Aid Community School, celebrated the policy by decorating their own special water cups. They even stacked the cups to resemble the food pyramid!

“We lined up at the best watering hole, NYC tap water faucets, and toasted to the new beverage policy with intentions to drink more water, less soda, cut 100% juice with water, and set the example for children and families” said Tamara M. Royal, Education Director at the P.S. 5 Head Start program.

During their recent “Family Day,” a juice bar was set up so that children, parents and staff could “cut” the juice with water themselves. A nutritionist also taught the group about the high sugar content in soda.

As of March 1st, all Children’s Aid staff and clients joined the fight against unhealthy eating by cutting their consumption of flavored milk, sodas and sports drinks. This is just another step in the agency’s overall mission to educate the communities we serve about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Cheers to drinking more water!

Keeping Young Hearts Healthy

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

During the month of February, The Children’s Aid Society’s School Based Health Center at the Salome Ureña de Henríquez Campus (SUCA) in Washington Heights launched a “Quick Heart Check Up” campaign to celebrate American Heart Month. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Over 250 students from the SUCA campus had their Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure checked and received education on cardiovascular health.

Gifts were given as incentives to come into the clinic for the exams and the students were able to take home the information to share with their parents. About 85 of these patients had abnormal BMI levels and were scheduled for a follow up visit with the Nurse Practitioner for further testing and nutrition counseling.

This was all made possible by a Community Impact Grant funded by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations which currently provide Cardiovascular Health and nutritional cooking classes during the school day to high school juniors at SUCA.

New York Jets Star Santonio Holmes Visits Children's Aid Center

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

It is not every day that inner city kids get to meet someone they see on T.V. or on the gridiron at the New Meadowlands Stadium. On Wednesday, March 9th, Santonio Holmes, wide receiver for the New York Jets, visited The Children’s Aid Society’s Frederick Douglass Center and talked to a lucky group of approximately 25 kids from the Bridge Middle School Program. Holmes and his close friend Cerge Sincere wanted to share their passion for working with youth through their new venture called 2DREAM, Inc. Santonio and Cerge described the core values of their mission and shared their own stories of personal struggle. They wanted the young ears listening to know that the recipe for success is not only about having a dream, but also requires Discipline, Responsibility, Education, the right Attitude and Motivation.

The center's youth were asked to share their own stories of facing adversity and to talk about what or who motivates them. Many cited family members. Mrs. Johnita Adams-Raspberry, Frederick Douglass Center’s Assistant Director said that she draws motivation from the kids who attend the center and for whom she works so hard on a daily basis. Mrs. Adams-Rasberry went on to say, “It was a great pleasure to have Santonio Holmes visit the Bridge Middle School Program. On behalf of the Frederick Douglass Center we appreciate the time Mr. Holmes spent with the children and we want to say Thank You!”

Children's Aid Families Speak Out Against Proposed Cuts to Youth Programs

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

Over 50 youth and their parents represented The Children’s Aid Society at a rally on March 9th supporting New York City youth programs. The New York City Youth Alliance, Beacons Unite, The Campaign for Summer Jobs, Coalition for Out Of School Time, and the Campaign for Tomorrow’s Workforce were also among the supporters who joined together to voice their concerns to city, state, and federal elected officials about possibly losing these vital youth services.

New York City is facing devastating cuts to youth programs including after school, beacon programs, summer jobs, literacy and job training. Many will be forced to close if these cuts are realized. Kids and families NEED these programs now. Prior to the rally, nonprofit organizations gathered at a press conference to talk about the devastating effects budget cuts will have on youth services. Council Member Lewis A. Fidler, Chair of the Committee on Youth Services, spoke about how important it is to prevent youth and social services from being on the chopping block.

“After-School programs provide a safe and learning environment for us youth” said 8th grader Selena Valentin to Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez at the rally. Selena is a student at the Roberto Clemente Campus, a Children’s Aid Society Community School that provides its students with after-school programs. “We better ourselves, stay out of trouble and prepare for the future. We need after-school programs to help us become all that we can be.”

Click here to learn how you can take action to help prevent these devastating and unprecedented cuts.

New Early Head Start Program Unveiled at Washington Heights Community School

Email Twitter Facebook Stumble Upon Digg | More |

The Children’s Aid Society’s (CAS) early childhood model is a comprehensive approach to the education of our youngest participants to help them develop a life-long love of learning that also deeply engages parents and caregivers. CAS has home-based, school-based, and center-based Early Childhood programs. Joining this portfolio is the P.S. 152 Community School Early Head Start Program. On the afternoon of Friday, March 4th, CAS staff, parents, elected officials and some of the cutest 0-3 year olds unveiled the newest Early Head Start program in Washington Heights.

The period from birth to five is a vital time of life during which significant transformations take place. Children acquire the basic skills that serve as the foundation for later learning and families establish the daily routines that will support their children’s healthy development. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares were in attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony and voiced their support of such programs. This is particularly important because funding for this, and other early childhood programs, is under attack.

Early Head Start, Head Start and child care funding are at risk of significant cuts as Congress continues to negotiate the current year’s budget. New York families stand to lose a tremendous amount if these cuts are passed. Sixty families that participate in Early Head Start at The Children’s Aid Society would lose their program.

Click "Play" below to watch NY1's coverage of the Early Head Start Unveiling. The video features Katherine Eckstein, Director of Public Policy at Children's Aid, discussing the need to protect federal funding for Early Head Start programs.

Click here to learn how you can take action to help prevent these devastating and unprecedented cuts.