The Children's Aid Blog

The Business of Giving: From Homeless to Harvard

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With the markets about as calm as a roller coaster, what we’re thankful for is all too often an afterthought. I don’t know anyone these days who doesn’t treat their stock portfolio as a scene from a gory horror flick: “I’m afraid to look -- but I can’t help it -- oh, I shouldn’t have looked.”

But while sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I thought about what I’m grateful for. Those people surrounding me at the table -- my wonderful wife, the kids I’m so proud of, and the grandchildren who never stop making me laugh -- top the list. But I am also thankful to have a job that I love.

I’ve spent most of my career working for the Children’s Aid Society, a New York City nonprofit whose sole mission is caring for the health, education and well-being of children. My first job with Children’s Aid was as a social worker; today, I am the (former) CEO…..

To read the full article, link here

C. Warren Moses, Former CEO

Domestic Violence-Part 4: How Can You Help

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If you know someone who you think is being abused by their spouse or partner, here's what you can do to help:

  1. Let them know you are worried about them and want to help. Don't tell them what to do or try to take control of the situation.
  2. Don't blame the victim, imply they did something to 'bring it on,' or tell them they are stupid for staying.  It's hard to understand why people stay in abusive relationships - some common reasons are love, belief the abuse will change, self-blame, and fear that the abuse will get worse if they try to break it off.  But the worst thing you can do if you want to help is to reinforce the idea that they are to blame.
  3. Help them to reduce isolation. Abusers often cut their victims off from friends and family members. Tell them you'll be there for them whether they decide to stay in the relationship or not.
  4. Connect them with a domestic violence advocate who can help them develop a safety plan. Call one of the numbers below to find out what resources are available in your area.

Finally, if you know someone who's being abusive, do not look the other way. Confront the specific behavior, tell them you are willing to support their efforts if they are willing to get help for changing but will not support abuse, and do not accept excuses, justifications or victim-blaming. Call one of the numbers below to find out how to get help for the abusive person. The Children’s Aid Society – Family Wellness Program 212-503-6842 NYC Domestic Violence Hotline 800-621-HOPE (4673) National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-699-SAFE (TDD 800-787-3224) National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 866-331-9474 (TDD 866-331-8453)

Bridging the Digital Divide at The Children's Aid Society

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Many of us remember the days when we used to write our school essays in painstakingly neat longhand….or spending the night two-finger typing on the old electric typewriter! Well, those days seem to be gone forever. In the digital era we now live in, our children can’t imagine what it would be like to function in a B.P.C. (Before Personal Computers) world! cpufri

But Children’s Aid Society students do not typically have access to a home computer. Our community schools give these economically disadvantaged kids full exposure to technology by enabling them to not only learn how to use computers, but also to advance themselves in many computer-related skills.  Thanks to our technology centers and dedicated team of professionals, Children’s Aid is able to arm students with the computer knowledge and the skill set needed to compete and succeed in this technologically advanced world of ours.

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Frederick Douglass Center is home to the innovative Intel Computer Clubhouse, a creative space where students learn all aspects of computing – from exploring the Internet to learning about 3-D modeling, multimedia, digital music recording and even animation. It’s a fabulous environment for kids to become computer literate and to be inspired to explore technology-specific careers, in fields like engineering, computer programming, architecture, and film animation. Through this exposure to the world of high tech, our students quickly learn that there are endless opportunities for them out there – all within their grasp.  Knowledge is a powerful thing!

Domestic Violence - Part 3: The Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

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While every relationship is different, survivors of domestic violence have identified common characteristics and behaviors of abusive partners.  Knowing the warning signs can help you to avoid abusive relationships or identify abuse and get help for yourself or a friend/family member sooner.

If you recognize any of the warning signs below, consider calling the Family Wellness Program or one of the hotlines listed at the bottom of this page.

1. Extreme jealousy – when one partner wants to know who the other is with and what they are doing at all times, doesn’t trust them and might even accuse them of cheating for no good reason.

2. Isolation – when one partner wants the other all to him/herself, tries to cut them off from friends, family, and activities – might even insist they quit their job or school.

3.  Controlling behavior – when one partner tries to control the other by telling them what to do, how to dress, who to hang out with – or manipulates them into doing what they want.

4.  Fast-moving relationship – when a partner who comes on very strong, is an extreme “smooth talker” and wants to make major commitments very early in the relationship.

5.  Blaming – when one partner always seems to blame the other for his/her own behavior – “You made me do this.”

6.  History of abusive behavior – if someone has ever been abusive to a current or ex partner, a child or an animal; it is unlikely they will change without help.

7. Moodiness – someone with a “Jeckyl and Hyde” personality.

8. Put-downs – when one partner is constantly criticizing the other, putting them down and making them feel badly about themselves.

9. Entitlement – when someone believes they are entitled to be in charge or be catered to, because of gender or other reasons.

10. Intimidation and threats - when one partner uses threats or intimidating body language, punches walls or breaks things to intimidate the other. How to get 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 or 1-800-787-3224 TTY National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 or1-866-331-8453 TTY Kerry Moles, Children's Aid Family Wellness Program, NYC

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.