The Children's Aid Blog

Children’s Aid Stars Take on Radio City Music Hall

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On the evening of April 28th, up-and-coming stars from The Children’s Aid Society and other youth-serving agencies from throughout the tri-state area had the exciting opportunity to showcase their talents at the MSG Entertainment’s “City of Dreams,” Sixth Annual Spring Talent Show on the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall. Hundreds of excited friends and family members lined up outside the doors of Radio City, eagerly waiting to nab up-front and center seats in the massive 6,000-seat auditorium. The night kicked-off with appearances from illustrious guests, including actress/comedian/singer-songwriter/talk show host Whoopi Goldberg and actor Matthew Modine. Following opening introductions, the Radio City Rockettes, bejeweled in signature sequins and top hats, escorted the young performers onstage where the night’s performances commenced. There were twenty performances in total, and a whopping four groups from CAS performed—more groups than from any other partnering children’s agencies.

The Children’s Aid Society Choir was the first CAS group to take the stage. The all-girl group swept onstage, looking stunning in their shimmering black dresses. The Choir performed a moving rendition of “Mama Who Bore Me” from the musical, Spring Awakening.

The second CAS group was a trio of young men from our Frederick Douglass Center’s Intel Computer Clubhouse. For their special night onstage, the group composed their very own, original piece of music, entitled, “U R Mine.” Decked out in dress shirts and ties, the trio serenaded the audience with their sweet melody, bumping beats, and soulful voices.

Switching to dance mode, the third CAS group, Somethin’ Untouchable, from our Dunlevy Milbank Center, tore up the dance floor with a tightly choreographed, high-energy mash-up of dance routines that included hip-hop moves and cheerleading pyramids that brought the audience to their feet.

Closing out the evening, Children’s Aid’s Harmony in Harlem, from our Drew Hamilton Center — a youth jazz ensemble consisting of percussionists, horn players, drummers and violinists — got into the groove with a lively piece of jazz/funk fusion that got toes tapping and hips swaying.

It was an incredible night for the blossoming stars and all their loved ones who came out to support and cheer them on.

Tracy Gilmore
Development Associate

A Year in Review: I.S. 166 Middle School Youth Council

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The Youth Council of I.S. 166 has experienced an enormous amount of obstacles this year.  Due to budget cuts our program was cut down from 5 to 3 days per week.  As a result Youth Council members had to make the sacrifice of missing out on their chosen clubs for most of the day in order to participate in Youth Council activities and workshops.  In this instance, being youth developer proved somewhat difficult because I wanted my students to take part in everything we as a program, had to offer.  In the end I was able to compromise. Youth Council members were able to take part in Youth Council for only the first half of after-school programming then had the choice to stay or go to their club for the rest of the day.  To my happiness, members chose to stay through the entire day.

Elections & choosing issues to advocate for went smoothly.  However, after a month or two, our president stopped attending after school and our president from the prior year was re-elected.  After this we were able to pick up where we left off and focus our attention on preparing for the conference.  We went to Wagon Road to grow together more as a youth council and work on our facilitation skills.

In December, while making the final preparations for our winter showcase, we learned our Community School Director Jobis Ozoria was tragically killed in a car accident.  We cancelled the show and informed the kids on what happened.  This, to say the least, had a tremendous affect on everyone within I.S. 166 and The Children's Aid Society.  We cried together, we grieved together. During this period it was important for us to remember all the good that Jobis represented and I made this my priority with the kids.

When discussing ways that we can honor Jobis we decided that naming the street in which the school is located after him would be most fitting.  We received tons of support, not only from the school and The Children’s Aid Society but also from Mr. Ozoria’s family and the community.  As of now, we received over 700 signatures and have spoken in front of the community board advocating for Grant Avenue between 163rd and 164th to be renamed to Jobis Ozoria Place.  Currently it is in the process of becoming law which is a very good sign that we can achieve this wonderful feat.

Keeping the ball rolling, we thought of ways to expand Youth Council and its message of advocacy and youth involvement.  As a result we are currently working on our very own television program through Bronx Net.  This would be a platform for Youth Council to discuss and advocate for issues on a more public level and show young people that their voices can be heard.

The Youth Council of 166 has dealt with a lot this year, but through it all has stuck together and bonded as a true family. I am proud of these young men and women and truly thankful to be a part of their lives.  They never cease to amaze me and are a prime example of the great things that can happen when positive young people get together to make a change.  They have not only been an inspiration to other students but to myself as well.  When I see the work they have accomplished and continue to work on, I am reminded that nothing is impossible if you truly work hard for it and have the support of others around you.

Joshua Poyer
Youth Council Developer
I. S. 166
Bronx, New York

Associates Council Hosts Domestic Violence Forum

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On Wednesday, May 12, members of The Children’s Aid Society’s Associates Council hosted a Domestic Violence Forum. The forum’s discussion focused specifically on the effects of domestic violence on children and adolescents. Kerry Moles, The Children’s Aid Society’s Director of Family Wellness moderated the discussion. Christian Burgess of Safe Horizon shared his perspective from working in a school setting with “tweens” where his team educates students on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. Angela Montague of Metropolitan Hospital offered her reflections on working in a hospital setting, which is often the site of the first intervention in many cases of domestic violence.

According to the discussion, 32 million Americans have been affected by domestic violence. Sadly, statistics show that incidence of domestic violence is higher among families in poverty. The discussion provided the audience with a broad perspective on different approaches to combating this terrible, yet preventable trend and provided an opportunity for questions and answers. At The Children’s Aid Society, we take a unique approach to working with families that struggle with domestic abuse. In addition to working with survivors, CAS’s Family Wellness Program works directly with the perpetrators by providing counseling and other needed services--- ours is the only program in New York City that serves the whole family, including abusive partners. We believe that when there is violence in the home, it is in the best interest of the children to provide services to every member of the family, in an effort to stop generational violence and restore healthy relationships between parents and children, if possible. For more information on the Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness program, please visit.

We are grateful to the Associates Council for their efforts to organize this terrific educational event and look forward to future forums.  If you are a young professional looking to become involved with the Associates Council through advocacy work and with our fundraising initiative,  please visit us at: or on Facebook.

Mary Newcomb
Development Assistant
The Children's Aid Society

The Drew Hamilton Center Celebrates Week of the Young Child

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The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration in April sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The Week of the Young Child was first established in 1971 to bring attention to the needs of young children and their families and for communities to plan on ways to better meet these needs. Also during this week early childhood programs and educators are recognized for their work. In the United States, approximately 13 million infants, toddlers and preschool children are in non-parental day care.

At The Children’s Aid Society, we recognize that the early childhood years are the most critical for laying the foundation for children’s success academically and throughout life. The Drew Hamilton Center in Harlem celebrated its youngsters by displaying their talents as authors, illustrators and actors. The children also honored their teachers with certificates.

Children’s Aid Nurses Help Bring Medical Relief to a Still-Devastated Haiti

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Neither the news clips, nor the countless stories from my colleagues that have traveled to Haiti after the earthquake prepared me for the atrocities of the ruins. When I landed in Haiti on March 29, 2010, I was overwhelmed by mixed emotions. While I was very happy to be part of the mission-to be in Haiti, my birth place, to see the Haitian people, the people that I love and care for so very much-I was also very tearful at the devastation and the condition the people of Haiti are living in. It saddened me when I did not recognize my parents’ home, a place that I value very much and had some very profound memories of growing up in.  However, I found solace in the resiliency of the people, their will to live, and their hope to carry-on, rebuild and continue with life as if nothing ever happened.

Photo Courtesy of Ixleine Dufrene for The Children's Aid SocietyThe Haitian American Nurses Association (HANA) has partnered with several organizations to help meet the medical needs of the thousands left severely injured by the earthquake that ravaged Haiti on January12, 2010. As part of the HANA Disaster Medical Relief Mission project, we worked in collaboration with several organizations to recruit and facilitate volunteer nurses and doctors for this project. All of our efforts have been concentrated in Port-au-Price. On March 29, 2010 HANA undertook a bold initiative of spearheading a special mission to six suburban provinces in Haiti also affected by the earthquake who have seen little in the form of help. The goal was to create a group of a minimum of 50 volunteer nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors who would be divided into teams and simultaneously be on the ground in Haiti, providing medical assistance for one week.  The HANA members were to recruit friends and colleagues to assist with the mission.  I am employed by The Children’s Aid Society in New York City; I recruited two special nurses Olabisi Olowoyo and Geralde Sully of the Medical Foster Care Program to partake in this special mission.

Our days began at 5 o’clock in the morning and finish by 8 at night. I believe some of the members would carry on through the night if they could; there wasn’t a lack of patients to see but a lack of electricity made it unsafe to work. Needless to say the mission on our end was a success; however, we could not help wishing that we could have done more.

During that week we saw and treated more than 2,500 Haitians.  Their ailments varied from malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, skin ailments, GERD, pelvic inflammatory disease, untreated hypertension; some have been diagnosed but unable to buy the prescribed medication.  But the most striking were malnutrition, illnesses caused by a lack of hygiene, and teenage pregnancy.  We vaccinated a thousand farmers, pregnant women and children seven years and older with donated tetanus vaccines. We also took every opportunity possible to provide health education and distribute condoms.

It has already been four months since the earthquake; people are still living in tents on the streets with no access to portable water and facilities, hungry children and parents who seem to have accepted their fate and do not complain. With the hurricane season approaching, one cannot help but to think of the unimaginable when thinking of how and what else one can do to help.

Haiti is no longer in the news headlines, but the Haitian people need us and we cannot stop working toward a better Haiti.  I want to take the time to thank everyone who has helped in Haiti disaster relief efforts, everyone who prayed for us while we were in Haiti and especially my colleagues at Children’s Aid who covered for us while we were away.

Ixleine Dufrene The Children's Aid Society

Holistic Approach Leads to Improved Education Outcomes: Testimony Regarding the ESEA’s Renewal

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At a recent hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, youth development and education advocates implored lawmakers to advance measures that address “the whole child,” as Congress prepares to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Testimony included representatives from Communities in Schools, the nation’s largest drop-out prevention organization, Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Forum for Youth Investment. Speakers emphasized the importance of comprehensive, integrated care in advancing education and closing the achievement gap; many cited how holistic approaches have successfully improved outcomes for our nation’s under-resourced youth and revitalized communities.

Increasingly, lawmakers and the Obama administration, including Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, are working to reshape policy and move towards a paradigm that expands the support services available to students, meeting critical health and other needs.  “If our children aren’t safe, they can’t learn,” Secretary Duncan told a forum on health sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “If our children aren’t fed, they can’t learn. If our children can’t see the blackboard, they can’t learn.”

Children’s Aid believes that the holistic approach is the right approach.  Our Community Schools model is grounded in the “whole child” approach and effectively targets critical social, emotional and health barriers to academic achievement. In fact, 16 years of research has highlighted what we’ve seen since our first Community School opened in 1992this approach works. Our model has been shown to increase academic achievement and improve student attendance[i]&[ii]; improve student social and emotional development[iii]; increase parent and community engagement[iv]&[v]; and improve mental and physical health.[vi]

You can download testimony and watch the United States Senate’s Full Committee Hearing on the ESEA reauthorization here.  For more information about Children’s Aid’s Community Schools, please visit our website.

Jane Mabe
Development Associate
The Children’s Aid Society

[i] 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings, prepared by Kira Krenichyn, Heléne Clark, Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel and Lymari Benitez of ActKnowledge, September 2005.  See also Summary of Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999, prepared by ActKnowledge.

[ii] Op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.  See also Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings.

[iii] Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings. See also op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[iv] Op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[v] Op cit., 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings. See also op cit., Fordham University Research Findings 1992-1999.

[vi] The Children’s Aid Society’s Community School Mental Health Services Analysis of Progress in 4th Year of the New York State Education Department’s VESID – Effective Practices Contract. Evaluation conducted by Heléne Clark and Robert Engle of ActKnowledge, November 2003.  See also PS 50 Evaluation of the Health Component in its First Year. Evaluation conducted by Heléne Clark, Melissa Extein, and Robert Engle of ActKnowledge, September 2003.

Fostering Families in the Bronx

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Imagine being separated from your home, family, friends and neighborhood. No matter the age, children entering in the foster care system are scared and need as much stability as possible. Keeping these fragile children connected to the world they are familiar with will make a difficult time much more bearable and may lessen the short and long term effects of being in foster care. The need for caring homes is especially great in the Bronx. The Children’s Aid Society recognizes the importance in keeping children in foster care connected to their schools, health care providers and family members and is working at full force to recruit families in the Bronx who are willing to open their doors and hearts to children in need. Bronx Family recently printed an article on the high demand for foster homes in the Bronx and the importance in keeping children within their community.

To read more on this issue and the comments of Richard Buery, Jr., president and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society, please read the article in Bronx Family.

Frederick Douglass Room Refurbishment by the Garden of Dreams Foundation

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In Harlem there is a special new place to relax, play and remember. With the help of Samix International, Inc., the Garden of Dreams Foundation refurbished a room in Children’s Aid’s Frederick Douglass Center. The room, in the center's basement, went through a complete facelift with new flooring, walls, lighting and furniture. To complete the activity space, brand new toys, books and games were also donated.

The completion of the room was unveiled on Tuesday, March 2nd and on hand to celebrate were New York Rangers alumnus Ron Duguay, New York Liberty alumnus Kym Hampton, New York Knicks alumnus and Children’s Aid Society Board Member Cal Ramsey, and the Knicks City Dancers. The room will also be a place to remember, as it has been dedicated in honor of Clark Elie, Frederick Douglass’ Assistant Director who passed away in December. “Clark Elie worked tirelessly to assist and guide young people in the Frederick Douglass Houses and surrounding community to become productive and caring citizens. He was a staple in the community center for 30 years,” said Tracey Haqq, Director of the Frederick Douglass Center. “He will be greatly missed by all he mentored, community members, parents and especially the young people.”

Report On Teen Leadership: Leading by Example

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Today’s teens may very well be tomorrow’s leaders. But first, they need to develop and practice leadership skills that will help them transition to adulthood – and to become successful, ethical and community-minded men and women.

In the United States, there is a proliferation of teen leadership initiatives sponsored by the government, schools and national groups such as the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of America and 4-H. There are also organizations and initiatives spearheaded by the teens themselves. This cross-section of programs shares the common objective to tap the natural energy and enthusiasm of our youth, helping them acquire a positive direction for their future. This is accomplished by challenging and empowering them with the skills and motivation needed to thrive as individuals and as productive members of society.

Comprehensive teen leadership initiatives focus on the following key areas:

  • Training in the areas of leadership, conflict management and resolution, time management, decision making, communication, leadership, and responsibility;
  • Teaching teens how to focus and develop positive attributes, become independent, self-confident, and responsible for their own actions;
  • Developing an appreciation for the impact of their actions, and learning self-respect as well as respect for others;
  • Encouraging teens to help others through volunteerism; peer mentoring, youth support groups, teen action councils, and community involvement;
  • Teaching teens about the “Big Picture” and the importance of protecting and preserving the plane, empowering them to be ardent advocates for the environment.

Additional comments from Vito Interrante, Division Director of City & Country Branches at The Children’s Aid Society:

“Children’s Aid Youth Development programs create a ladder towards responsible and self-sufficient adulthood for teens by providing them a progressive range of programs and services that teaches them to guide their own growth towards success. Programming that promotes self confidence, community service, financial literacy and employment assistance are at the center of The Children’s Aid Society’s approach towards Youth Development.”

May is National Foster Care Month

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Unfortunately, some children are not born into families who are able to provide the type of safe, stable, loving homes children deserve. The Foster Care system provides nurturing homes for children needing the support and care that they aren’t receiving from their birth families. By standing in for a child's parent, foster parents help children that may otherwise become disconnected, neglected or in some very sad cases, abused. The need foster care parents continues to rise and May is the best time to shed light on this need because it is National Foster Care Month.

President Barack Obama recently issued a proclamation calling for Americans to “support young people in foster care, and to recognize the committed adults who work on their behalf each day.” Our devoted social workers truly deserve acknowledgement and accolades for their hard work, but what would help them even more, is an increase in the amount of available foster homes for our youth in need. This May we ask you to consider opening your hearts and homes to children in need love and shelter. In 2009, The Children’s Aid Society provided safety for 600 children through family foster care, and our specialized medical and therapeutic foster care services. If you are unable to foster a child please share this information with the caring adults in your life.

1. Applicants must be over the age of 21. They can be single, married, or in a domestic partnership.

2. Applicant must be self sufficient. Applicant’s income can be from employment, pension, or social security.

3. Applicant must complete a state screening/background check.

4. Applicant must complete 30 hours of Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training, basic training for all foster parent applicants.

5. Applicants must be in good physical and mental health and have completed physical exams for every household member.

6. Applicant must be the lease holder to his or her own apartment or home.

7. Applicant must identify an emergency child care person.

If you would like more information about becoming a foster parent, please call us at 212-949-4962.