The Children's Aid Blog

Day of Giving with the Knicks

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jeffries On Thursday, November 19th, Jared Jeffries of the New York Knicks, The Garden of Dreams Foundation and The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. brightened the day of many families of The Children’s Aid Society.

Jeffries kicked off the Day of Giving with a visit to the Dunlevy Milbank Center’s daycare program and stocked the center’s food pantry which serves needy families year round. Baby food, car seats, strollers and other products were also handed out to families.

In the afternoon Jeffries along with a few teammates, the Knicks City Dancers and Irwin Simon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hain Celestial, handed out 300 all-natural Plainville Farms® turkeys to families serviced by Children’s Aid for their Thanksgiving Day meals. knicks

As the adults gathered their turkeys and other items, the children danced and participated in basketball drills with Knicks volunteers. Occasionally, the 6’11” Knicks star Jeffries would give some of our littlest players a boost up to the net to score a slam dunk. “The Children’s Aid is a great thing and I always try to come out and support it whenever I am in New York…I think this is one of the best opportunities for kids to come out and spend time together, I am glad I can be a part of it,” said Jeffries.

Changing the Statistics on Teen Pregnancy

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The topic of teen pregnancy prevention has been around so long that I wonder if we sometimes lose site of the terrible statistics behind this issue:

86 adolescents become pregnant every hour of every day

50 adolescents give birth every hour of every day

24 adolescents terminate pregnancies every hour of every day

457 adolescents contract STDs every hour of every day

Teen pregnancy and its far reaching ramifications on the teens,  the children born to these teens, and society as a whole is very much in the sights of national funding priorities.  We are pleased to report that our Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (APPP) has just been found to meet Top Tier evidence of effectiveness standards by The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.


This is an initiative, being reviewed by Congress, which identifies social program models that meet these criteria as a way to identify which programs should receive federal funds. The Children’s Aid Carrera program could potentially receive public funding for the first time in its existence as a result of this finding, meaning the program could expand greatly in coming years.

We truly hope this assessment will broaden the reach of our APPP program which currently has replications in New York, Baltimore, District of Columbia, Atlanta, Toledo and Flint, and reduces pregnancies by 50% in the communities served.  That’s a much better statistic to work with.

Kathy de Meij, Associate Director of Development, Director of Marketing & Special Events

Who’s Buzzing about Miracle?

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In late September, Tamara Tunie of Law & Order: SVU & event chair of the 2009 Miracle on Madison Avenue taped a segment for Citybuzz at the Madison Avenue store Max Mara, a Miracle participant.

Citybuzz is a program that gives you the “buzz” on restaurants, night life and shopping in New York City.  Tamara spoke about the miracle that will happen on Madison Avenue on December 6th when stores between 57th and 86th streets will donate 20% of their sales to the Health Services of The Children’s Aid Society. The program airs on television, select air and cruise lines and nearly 200 New York City hotels.

Join us for our 23rd Annual Miracle on Madison Avenue shopping extravaganza which will take place on Sunday, December 6, 2009 from 12-5 PM. Miracle merchants donate 20% of their sales for the day to Children’s Aid and we in return will provide vital health services to underserved children in New York City! Wouldn’t it be great if every gift you bought this holiday season went just a little farther?  Save the Date and Save a Child!

Needing Proof, She Had Indeed Embraced a New Home

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has recently featured this Children’s Aid story about Carmen Cruz, a native of Cuba, and how she received help replacing her original citizenship papers.  Below is an excerpt from the original article.

neediest cases mon

Carmen Cruz with Christian, 7, the son of a friend. The native of Cuba received help replacing her original citizenship papers.

It took all of three hours for Carmen Cruz to decide to leave her homeland behind in exchange for a new life in the United States.

It was June 1991, and Mrs. Cruz was visiting her daughter and granddaughter in New York, on her first trip out of her native Cuba. Her daughter had fled during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, and a decade later devoted a year’s efforts and extra earnings toward persuading the Cuban government to let her mother leave the country for a visit. To prepare, Mrs. Cruz, who had never flown before, took puddle-jumper flights between cities in Cuba, squeezing her eyes shut during every takeoff and landing, whispering to herself, “I’m going to die, I’m going to die.”

New York City’s bustle amazed her — “I loved the freedom,” she said.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The Value of Philanthropy – Teaching Kids to Give Back

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Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

John F. Kennedy

Everything boils down to education. When we teach our children to value themselves, they learn to value others.  Teaching kids to care is the greatest gift that we can bestow upon them.  It helps them understand how to balance their own needs with the needs of those around them – family, friends, and teachers. CASFRI1120

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing kids helping kids: our young fifth graders, the All-Star Givers, at Washington Heights-based P.S. 152 raised over $1100 from spare change as part of Common Cents Penny Harvest, the largest child philanthropy program in the US. Our Teen Action Club collected almost 1,000 cans of food for local food pantries, winning them free airline tickets, which they used to fly to Las Vegas, not for a part to help another nonprofit clean up graffiti and clear our parking lots! They understand firsthand that they can make a difference when they work together. CASFRI11201

At The Children’s Aid Society , we strongly encourage our youth to engage in philanthropic efforts, through community school programs and teen initiatives, like our Bronx Youth Council, where middle and high school students actively participate in neighborhood issues that directly affect them.  Issues such as gang violence, mental health, education and hunger are some of the problems they face in their community.  Each student chooses a specific issue, makes it his or her own personal cause and, at the end of each year presents a recommended plan of action to peers, teachers and government officials alike.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Kahlil Gibran

Philanthropy and community involvement builds character, fosters a strong sense of compassion, and transforms young people into just and benevolent leaders. And – it simply feels good to help others!  But our kids have already figured that one out!

Stephanie Sigal excites Early Childhood Training Staff About Promoting Speech and Language Development

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On November 10th, Stephanie Sigal, a New York City speech – language pathologist spoke to a group of over 20 early childhood teachers, directors and special needs coordinators about how speech and language develop over the first five years of life and strategies to promote children’s speech and language skills.

say and play

(Image courtesy of

Stephanie spoke about the benefits of eliminating habits that encourage poor oral motor skills (e.g., sippy cups, bottles, pacifiers) and the importance of encouraging language skills through the right level of modeling for each child.   She discussed the importance of not only reading to children every day, but how important it is to choose books that will encourage speech and language skills.  Stephanie pointed out how crucial it is for babies, toddlers and even school age children to be read to face-to-face so that they can observe facial expressions.  Our faces, and especially our mouths should always be visible to children in conversation.

Staff left the training excited and referred to the workshop as “eye opening.”  Many of the participants, who are parents themselves, spoke about how they would immediately begin to incorporate Stephanie’s tips into their work with children at home and at school.

Stephanie Sigal MA CCC-SLP offers speech, language and oral motor therapy for babies, toddlers and school age children in Manhattan.  She specializes in assessing and treating articulation disorders from an oral motor perspective.  Stephanie’s methods improve speech clarity and resolve problems such as tongue thrusting and drooling.  Stephanie also has family-friendly language programs to help young children maximize language skills.

You can learn more about Stephanie and her Manhattan-based speech therapy company Say and Play, at:

What’s On Your REAL Holiday Wish List?

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miracleteusThis holiday season, we all want to treat ourselves to something special — maybe some new jewelry, a chic pair of shoes or that “must-have” toy for the kids…

But what if your wishes could make a REAL difference, not just in your own home, but in the lives of children who need a lot more than just a new toy?   If you had that kind of magic at your fingertips… What would YOU wish for?

Well, now you have that magic.

Join us for the Miracle on Madison on December 6, 2009 from 12-5 pm to fulfill your wish list and ours.  The Children’s Aid Society will receive 20% of the day’s proceeds from all participating stores, and that money will provide vital health services to the underserved children in NYC!

Plus, before December 6, make a comment here and let us know what your REAL holiday wish list would look like.  Because we all love new shoes, sweaters, games and toys — but some wishes on our list can’t fit in a gift box.

This holiday season, help your gifts go just a little farther.  Save the Date and Save a Child.

Opening Up a Crowded Home After a Sister’s Death

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The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has recently featured this Children’s Aid story about a family opening up their crowded home after a sister’s death.  Below is an excerpt from the original article.


Felicia Fields, center, and her family. Clockwise from top left, Johnathon, Jasmyn, Barron Smith, Tichina, Christopher and Justin.

The Fields household is jam-packed.

Pots and pans are stacked atop the kitchen table. The refrigerator is close to overflowing. Crates of clothes cram the living room, and there are not enough beds for the family of seven living in the tiny two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in a housing project in gritty Morrisania in the Bronx.

“It’s overcrowded,” admitted Felicia Fields, 38, the head of the family. “But we don’t stress on it as long as we have love.”

The sudden death of Ms. Fields’s sister, Carol, from septicemia in June 2008 brought two more children into a space that already included Ms. Fields’s children — Justin, 10; Jasmyn, 14; and Johnathon, 19 — and her fiancé, Barron Smith. The fathers of Tichina Fields, 17, and Christopher Fields, 8, declined to take an active parenting role after Carol Fields’s death, so Felicia Fields moved them from their apartment in Riverdale, and was eventually granted full guardianship.

“I’m just grateful to keep them together, because I couldn’t imagine a world without them,” Ms. Fields said. “I couldn’t let them go to foster care.”

Tichina, a straight-A student and a fledgling writer who became afflicted with cerebral palsy after suffering from bleeding in her brain after her premature birth, and Christopher, a train and bridge buff who has autism and attention deficit disorder, refused to eat for a while after the move. Christopher told a school counselor he wanted to go to heaven with his mother. But eventually they became enmeshed in the family fabric, wordlessly tapping away on their Game Boys alongside their cousins and swapping computer time for the completion of their chores.

Read more…

To learn how you can make a difference for this family and many others, please link over to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street
Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Photo courtesy of Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times

In an Emergency, the Neediest Cases Fund Provides Relief

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The following is an excerpt from the November 6th issue of The New York Times:neediest.190

Published: November 6, 2009

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund begins its 2009-2010 campaign today. The tradition of helping those who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families began 98 years ago, after Adolph S. Ochs, then the publisher of The New York Times, encountered a shabbily dressed man who was out of work and down on his luck. Their exchange inspired Mr. Ochs to begin printing profiles about the city's worst-off citizens in The New York Times. Since then, readers have responded to the articles printed every holiday season by sending in contributions by mail and, more recently, online at All told, the Fund has raised over $244 million. Below, the seven agencies supported by the Neediest Cases Fund describe how readers' donations bring stability to people's lives in times of crisis.

Children's Aid Society

A child walks to school without a coat in winter and does not want to worry his jobless mother about it. A widowed father chooses to use his reduced wages to put food on the family table, but doesn't know where to turn when he receives a utility shut-off notice. These are family situations that come to The Children's Aid Society on a daily basis.

Read full article…

To learn how you can make a difference, please link over to The New York Times Needist Cases Fund or contact:

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
230 West 41st Street Suite 1300
New York, NY 10036
(800) 381-0075

Swimming Lessons at East Harlem Center

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The East Harlem Head Start program made quite a splash when they recently had their first day of swimming lessons.  Already in its third year, the East Harlem Head Start Swimming Program has taught over 50 preschoolers, 70 parents, and even 1 Head Start teacher, how to swim2kick, stroke, and swim their way across the Milbank pool.

The classes, held every Friday, pool together a variety of CAS resources - the Early Childhood Department, the Milbank Center, East Harlem Head Start staff, and one enthusiastic lifeguard.  Each preschooler is accompanied by one, or sometimes both, of their parents. The program is designed so that both the child and the parent build up their confidence and learn how to swim.  Each lesson allows for the parents and children to really swim1 connect with one another, to feel proud of what they accomplish, and, most importantly, to have fun!  Stay tuned, the group will be swimming laps in no time!