The Children's Aid Blog

Lynne Echenberg Honored by Stanford Law School

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Lynne Echenberg, the director of Children’s Aid’s Next Generation Center in the Bronx, is this year’s recipient of the Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award, given by Stanford Law School’s John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law. The honor is bestowed upon an alumnus/a, who has engaged in public service and had a significant impact on the community, national or international level.

Echenberg was selected for her impressive accomplishments advocating for foster children and other youth. As a student at Stanford, she worked to improve public interest programs for the entire student body.  

Lynne has worked in the child welfare field for over a decade, always advocating and fighting for the rights of underserved youth, especially those involved in the foster care system.  At the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, she served as Special Assistant to Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, for whom she helped plan and implement comprehensive, neighborhood-based reforms for the agency.

At Children’s Aid, Echenberg helped plan, create - and now directs - the Next Generation Center, a multi-service program that provides support, guidance, training and opportunities for young people ages 14-24, with a special focus on youth aging out of foster care and other disconnected youth.

Well-deserved acknowledgments were also given on

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. Calmly express your concerns about the specific behavior that you see as abusive and make it clear that you do not believe there is any excuse for abusing another person. Suggest that they get help in order to change their behavior, and tell them you will support them in their efforts to change, but will not support abusive behavior. Do not accept excuses, justifications, “laughing it off” or victim-blaming. Call one of the numbers below to find out how to get help for the abusive person.

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 (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)

Photo via

New Memorial Foundation for Popular Radio Personality Makes Donation to Children’s Aid in the Bronx

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The newly created Erika Roman Memorial Foundation made its first donation to The Children’s Aid Society’s Next Generation Center for services for youth in or aging out of foster care on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Erika Roman, a popular Latina radio personality in Orlando, was born and raised in New York City. She spent time in the foster care system as a child and remained a role model to other foster children through mentoring.  Tragically, Erika passed away in 2009 at the age of 33. In an effort to continue her work with children in the foster care system, the Erika Roman Memorial Foundation was created.

The evening featured a plaque dedication and a check presentation.  Senior executives from the Erika Roman Memorial Foundation also had the chance to meet with 40 teens who participate in programming at the Next Generation Center. The evening’s food and refreshments were provided by the NGC Caterers, a group of teens from the Center who formed a professional catering company specializing in healthful, innovative cuisine.

Knicks Superstar Amar’e Stoudemire Spends the Day at Children’s Aid!

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The kids were all smiles and screams as Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks handed out school supplies at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Centers in Harlem.

On the afternoon of September 13th, Amar’e spent the earlier part of the day visiting the Frederick Douglass Center before boarding a school bus heading to Dunlevy Milbank. There, students, ages 8-14, gathered in the center’s gym where he personally handed them a back-pack PACKED with school supplies courtesy of the Garden of Dreams and WB Mason. On hand to hype up the crowd was MSG Network’s Gus Johnson and the Knicks City Dancers.

Stoudemire was not the only one handing out gifts! Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, and Casper Lassiter, Director of the Dunlevy Milbank Center, presented Amar’e with his very own Milbank Flyers T-shirt. The center’s boys’ basketball team placed fourth in a national competition this summer. 

Before handing out the bags of school supplies, the newest Knicks’ superstar addressed the crowded gym, where he reminded everyone that education is the key to future success.

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, is extremely possessive, accuses them of cheating with no reason. 

2. Isolation – when one partner wants the other all to him/her self, 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 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 “Jekyll 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, whether 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 (TDD 800-787-3224)
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474 (TTY 866-331-8453)


Presidential Proclamation: National School Lunch Week

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“No child should have to learn on an empty stomach,” is the opening line of the Presidential Proclamation in which President Obama declared the week of October 10 through 16, 2010, as National School Lunch Week. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally assisted meal program that operates in schools and child care institutions, is the largest of the Child Nutrition Programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. Each year, to raise awareness of the importance of the National School Lunch Program, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) helps schools celebrate with an official theme that changes every year. This year’s theme is “School Lunch – What’s on Your Tray?” By visiting students can take a personality quiz to reveal which of the site’s cool cartoon characters fit their personality and what healthy foods are best to keep them energized throughout the school day. This interactive campaign aims to inspire students to get excited about healthy school lunch choices.

The National School Lunch Program prevents hunger for 31 million students daily and promotes education by enabling children to have access to nutritiously balanced and affordable meals at school. The Congress, by joint resolution of October 9, 1962 (Public Law 87-780), as amended, has designated the week beginning on the second Sunday in October each year as "National School Lunch Week," and has requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

The Children's Aid Society of New York introduced many progressive programs in its sites that today are commonplace. In 1853, Children’s Aid started its free school lunch program for destitute children, the only one of its kind in the United States at that time.

Fed Ex Volunteers Brighten Up Children’s Aid

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Thousands of FedEx team members from more than 30 cities across the United States and over 40 countries around the world volunteered in local community service projects as part of the 6th Annual FedEx Cares Week. FedEx employees were provided with volunteer opportunities at local organizations that are dedicated to improving the communities for which they serve.

New York City FedEx volunteers, along with United Way, assisted in painting and organizing at the Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club. The generous volunteers updated the paint of the playground mural and gym walls, as well as organize the gym’s storage unit. Among other projects at the center, the Fed Ex team members sorted clothing donations and organized the library books. 

“FedEx Cares Week empowers FedEx team members around the world to serve together and make a difference in their own backyards,” said Stephanie Butler, manager of Global Citizenship at FedEx.

Photo Courtesy of Tabatha Stephens, FedEx.

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

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This is the second in a series of blogs on domestic violence and healthy relationships which we originally posted last year in honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  We are reposting these blogs because the information is still so important. Check back every Monday in October for upcoming blogs on Why People Abuse and Why Victims Stay.

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.

Children who see, hear or are aware of violence 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 (TTY 866-331-8453)


Chefs Go Back To School Across America

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Everyone is getting behind the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Campaign whose goal is to reduce the childhood obesity from 20% to 5% by 2030.One group of people joining that fight are the Nation’s chefs. Mrs. Obama is calling on all chefs to get involved by adopting a school and helping them teach its students about healthier foods. Chefs already know how to create delicious yet healthy meals! The tough part will be delivering the message to children in such a way that would be appealing to them. 

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program is pioneered by Sam Kass, the Assistant White House Chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives. The program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will assist chefs in partnering with a school in their local communities so that they may work together in facing what some would call their toughest crowd yet, kids. The mission is to create delicious and nutritious meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and to teach the children about making healthier food choices. With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, school meals may be the only nutritious option for many children today.

With Go! Healthy directed by The Children’s Aid Society, our fight against childhood obesity more important than ever. The program is aimed at combating obesity in children, teens and adults by teaching them about the joys of fresh, delicious and healthful foods. Go! Healthy is “food education” that makes healthful foods fun and accessible for children and families in New York’s low-income neighborhoods.

Stefania Patinella, Director of Food and Nutrition Programs

“From the beginnings of the Go!Healthy, The Children’s Aid Society recognized the dearth of tested and effective responses to this urgent crisis in child health. We set out to create program models that would not only work within our own Community Schools and Centers, but in low-income communities across the country. Our resulting obesity prevention programs are innovative and effective...Go!Healthy takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to child heath. Our three pronged approach includes education, foodservice and advocacy.”

September is National Yoga Month

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Thinking about starting a healthy lifestyle? Yoga is one way to help balance yourself physically and mentally. September is National Yoga Month and throughout the United States one can find free or discounted Yoga classes, as part of an effort to spread awareness of the benefits of yoga, including improved strength, posture, breathing and flexibility, as well as improving one’s mood and concentration.

The Children’s Aid Society knows the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and being a positive role model to children. Yoga is a fun way for children to practice being fit. At Children’s Aid, Yoga is offered to participants at Community Schools P.S. 5 and P.S. 8 in Washington Heights, the Bronx Family Center and the Philip Coltoff Center at Greenwich Village. At The Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Center, mothers and their little ones practice Yoga together as part of the Head Start Program.

Moria Cappio, Head Start Education Director at the East Harlem Center:

"Through our partnership with University Settlement and the Butterflies Program, our Head Start children and families are able to not only strengthen their bodies, minds and spirits, but also their relationships with one another. The teachers and parents always comment on how the children learn to use the breathing techniques outside of yoga - in the classroom and in their homes."