The Children's Aid Blog

Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct

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image010The East Harlem Center was crawling with cops on the night of January 27th, and the community could not have been happier. The East Harlem Head Start hosted an informational forum titled, "Know Your Rights - Know Your Precinct." The forum was held in response to some neighborhood safety concerns. Over the last few years, the East Harlem Head Start program has been working on building better relationships between their immigrant families and the local police officers. There have been neighborhood safety concerns around the fact that many serious crimes have gone unreported by immigrant families due to fear of deportation, misinformation and a general lack of knowledge of available resources.

In collaboration with the 23rd Precinct, NYPD administration, the District Attorney's Office and Senator Serrano, the Forum addressed many of the families concerns and aimed at clearing up confusion. Topics included:  distinction between NYPD and Immigration, Executive Order 41, 311 vs. 911, acceptable forms of ID, resources throughout the police department, and general public safety tips. A representative from the 2010 Census also spoke about the importance of being counted in the upcoming Census. panel

A strong panel of presenters were able to provide a significant amount of information and answers to the audience's questions. Presenters included: Senator Jose M. Serrano (New York State Senator for the 28th District); Chief Philip Banks III (Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan North); Deputy Inspector William Pla (Commanding Officer of the 23rd Precinct); Captain Santana (Executive Officer - 23rd Precinct); Sgt. Gary Giersbach (Commanding Officer of the Youth Office – 23rd Precinct); Officer Oliver Matos (Youth Officer -23rd Precinct); Officer Frank Galindo (Community Affairs Officer-23rd Precinct); Officer Miguel Murphy (Community Affairs Officer 23rd Precinct); Officer Rios (Domestic Violence - 23rd Precinct); Sgt.  Lizbeth Villafane (Commanding Officer of the New Immigrant Outreach Unit); Chief Coppuchi (PSA5 Housing); Maria De La Rosa (Deputy Director of Community Affairs for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office); Cesar Vasquez:  (23rd Precinct’s Community Council President); Andres Mares Muro (U.S. Census Bureau).

Head Start parents Nicole McClammy and Brenda Colon introduced the panelists and Maria Diaz shared a success story from working with the Precinct.

The audience appreciated the strong NYPD presence and the beginning of an important on-going dialogue about how to build more trusting relationships throughout the community. A follow-up forum, focusing specifically on immigration issues, is being planned for March.

Teens preview Coca Cola Super Bowl Ad at Dunlevy Milbank!

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image002 A week before the big game, approximately 50 teens were among the first in the nation to preview Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl XLIV ads at The Children’s Aid Society’s Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club in Harlem.

The teens listened to presentations from Coca-Cola and Facebook executives and learned about a tie-in program that allows Facebook users to join Coca-Cola in making a positive difference in their communities by benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The new Facebook initiative will allow Coca-Cola fans to give a virtual gift to their friends on Facebook. For every gift, Coca-Cola will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Club of America with a goal of $250,000.

Children’s Aid CEO Richard Buery Discusses Obama's State of the Union Address

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image001As the chief executive of one of New York's largest children's services organizations, I found a lot to applaud in President Obama’s State of the Union address before Congress. The domestic initiatives he announced, including doubling the child care tax credit, passing a job-creation bill, revitalizing community colleges, creating a college tuition tax credit and expansion of the Pell grant program can make a profound difference for the nation's children and families.

We share the President's central vision -- that children's success should not depend on where they live, but on their potential. Early in his speech, he described reading letters from children asking "Why do I have to move away from my home?" or "When will my parents find jobs?" As the President and Congress move forward on health reform, education reform, and job creation, we hope that they will continue to pay attention to the voices of those children. As we work to improve access to higher education and create jobs with living wages, we cannot forget the particular challenges faced by teens aging out of foster care or those being released from juvenile detention facilities. As we strive to reform public education, we must remember that the most successful educational program cannot serve a child who is too sick to attend school regularly, too hungry to focus when they get there, and too stressed because of an unstable home environment.

Reflecting on the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens Union v. FEC, the President accurately bemoaned the power of money in politics. Too often, our laws fail to take account of the needs of poor and vulnerable children who do not lobby, donate to elected officials, or vote. We hope that Congress heeds the President's call to do business differently. We must stand for the needs of vulnerable children who cannot stand for themselves. We at The Children's Aid Society are ready to work with this administration to fulfill our mission: to bridge the gap between what children have and what they need to thrive.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
CEO and President
The Children’s Aid Society

Follow Richard Buery on Twitter: @RichardBueryCAS

Children’s Aid is an Official 2010 Census Partner!

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Photo Courtesy of The Census Bureau The Children’s Aid Society encourages all the residents of its communities in New York City to participate in the 2010 Census. “It’s important that everyone be counted,” said Richard Buery, President and CEO of The Children’s Aid Society. Every year, more than $300 billion in federal funds are awarded to states and communities for new hospitals, schools, better transportation and social services based on the Census’ population count, which is taken every 10 years.

“It’s completely safe to respond to every Census question,” said Mr. Buery. “By law, the Census Bureau cannot share your individual answers with anyone, including federal, state and local agencies of any kind. That means, regardless of immigration status, employment status or housing situation, you should respond to the Census because your information is completely confidential.”

Children’s Aid will host several information nights so that community members can learn more about the 2010 Census. The first is Wednesday, February 17th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Dunlevy Milbank Center, 14-32 West 118th Street in Harlem. (For more information please call 212-996-1716 or download this flyer.) Also, teens from several Children’s Aid programs will be trained to convey accurate information about the 2010 Census to members of their communities, and will engage in various activities to encourage participation.

Children’s Aid Fights For Access To Healthcare For Uninsured

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insuranceThe number of uninsured Americans has increased exponentially in the last few years. According to the United States Census Bureau‘s most recent report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, approximately 46.3 million people in this country are uninsured. While Medicaid, Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program report the number of uninsured children has decreased by by 800,000, there are still 7.3 million children nationwide without insurance.

The public programs serving these children are very much in demand. In fact, enrollment in Medicaid has gone through the roof largely because of the distressed economy, giving birth to a whole new generation of enrollees who previously did not qualify for access to public healthcare. It is no surprise to learn that the American poverty level reached 13.2% in 2008, the highest level in over ten years. Now, more than ever, economically disadvantaged communities and families need guidance with navigating the public healthcare system.

The state of New York offers government-sponsored health insurance programs: Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Family Health Plus.  Additionally, New York Governor David A. Paterson recently signed legislation to make health insurance more affordable and to improve health care access for New Yorkers. Likewise, the Children’s Aid Society is committed to helping reduce the percentage of uninsured in New York City, so that no one is left behind.

Additional quote from Lorraine Gonzalez, Director, Health Care Access Program, Children’s Aid:

In the decade since New York State acted to reduce/eliminate the number of uninsured but eligible residents of the state with a program of facilitated enrollment, there have been substantive successes. As a state, we have expanded Child Health Plus eligibility to 400% of poverty; created a single statewide eligibility standard for Medicaid; eliminated resource thresholds for Medicaid; and allowed residents to self-declare income and residency in the renewal process. New York State has been a pioneer in modeling systems that help make health insurance an affordable reality for all. Governor Paterson demonstrated a commitment to help reduce/eliminate the uninsured rate in New York State for all children by expanding the federal poverty level for Child Health Plus to 400% in September 2008.  While recognizing that acclaim for the work of those invested in this cause is due, we must build upon our successes and progress in our efforts to eliminate the remaining obstacles: gaps in coverage, the need for support for navigating the health care system, and discrimination and disparities in the quality of health care for those who are publicly insured.

When it comes to health care, we know that the current federal administration acknowledges the fundamental right of all individuals to have appropriate coverage and access to health care. We are at a pivotal moment when we can make health care a reality for all with our new political capital and effective strategic planning. The Children’s Aid Society is dedicated to this effort and invites you to remain a committed partner.

Children’s Aid Responds to the Crisis in Haiti

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The Children’s Aid Society extends our deepest sympathies to the people of Haiti. Our hearts go out to the children and families struggling to survive in the wake of the devastating earthquake. The pain and suffering we see chronicled in the news each day is almost unimaginable. Children’s Aid Society has a proud tradition of providing assistance to families in need, whether in the aftermath of September 11th or Hurricane Katrina.

The people of Haiti will need help for a long time to come. Children’s Aid staff and families are responding to the crisis in Haiti through individual financial and in-kind donations, such as clothing and personal hygiene kits. If you would like to make a financial donation to the Haiti relief efforts, Charity Navigator, which monitors nonprofit agencies, offers a list of suggestions.

At this time no imminent airlifts of children from Haiti to New York are planned. However, should the opportunity arise, The Children’s Aid Society stands ready to help place orphaned Haitian children in loving and supportive homes in New York City. If you, or someone you know, might be willing to care for a Haitian child we want to hear from you. Please contact us at fosteradopt@childrensaidsociety.org with your name and the best way to reach you. We will keep you informed if there is an opportunity for volunteers to care for children escaping the devastation of the earthquake.

Children's Aid also partners with the City Bar Justice Center to assist Haitian nationals to gain Temporary Protected Status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For more information about how to file an application, contact our Office of Public Policy & Client Advocacy at (212) 358-8930 or email sharonev@childrenaidsociety.org.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.

President & Chief Executive Officer
The Children's Aid Society

In Debt To Start, and Sinking Even Deeper

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Approached by a loan seller, Theodora Roach agreed to what turned out to be a balloon loan. Later, she got help through a government program and the Neediest Cases Fund.

Approached by a loan seller, Theodora Roach agreed to what turned out to be a balloon loan. Later, she got help through a government program and the Neediest Cases Fund.

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story, written by Jennifer Mascia, about Theodora Roach and how she received help after unknowingly entering into a balloon loan. Below is an excerpt from the original article:

Theodora Roach’s subprime journey started with a knock at the door.

In 2004, the Fidelity Group sent sales representatives to her block in Flatlands, Brooklyn, where, in 1997, she and a cousin had bought a three-bedroom home for $169,000. The sales agents were offering a refinancing and loan package they said could lower her mortgage payments.

Ms. Roach had already borrowed $25,000 against the equity in her home — first to finish the basement, then to help cover her payments because her cousin, a correction officer, disappeared, along with her half of the $1,500-a-month mortgage.

Behind on her first mortgage, and to avoid a lien on the home, which she shared with her mother and adult daughter, Ms. Roach, 58, accepted the offer.

It turned out to be the biggest mistake of her life.

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 Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

Children’s Aid Helps Families Fulfill Their Goals – Creating Families with a Future

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Raising a family in New York City isn’t an easy task to accomplish. It takes hard work, a lot of love, and a lot of planning. At The Children’s Aid Society we have created a groundbreaking new program to help parents with the task of planning – for themselves, for their family, and for their future.image003

Families with a Future is a unique new program which addresses this often daunting challenge, by acknowledging that sometimes we may need a Life Coach. The Life Coach is a key component of the Families with a Future program, providing assistance to parents in order to help them succeed and prosper in a long term, sustainable way.

Working with parents both one-on-one and in group settings, the Life Coach helps parents identify long term goals and ways to achieve them, while building a support network that parents can turn to for guidance. The Families with a Future program is geared towards motivated, creative, self-sufficient individuals, who will work hard to implement the plans they make with their Life Coach.

This Children’s Aid Life Coach can also assist parents in making tough decisions regarding health insurance, housing, and other services. In addition, the program offers grants for qualifying individuals, to help themselves build a better future. In the past, participants have used the money to attend highly regarded New York institutions such as the City University of New York.

Children’s Aid is committed to helping families through mentorship. Whether it’s with our Families with a Future program designed for parents or through various youth development programs – aimed at helping children grow to successful independence – our goal is the same: a bright, prosperous future for New York City families.

Neil Palansky

Have You Heard of The Children’s Aid Society in New York?

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Children’s Aid hit the streets of New York City to find out what New Yorkers really knew about The Children’s Aid Society.

In this new video, called Have You Heard of the Children’s Aid Society in New York?, we ran into a variety of New Yorkers where some knew the name and others weren’t sure, so in light of that, we are delighted to present our 150 year old organization to you where our long-term goal is to support the underserved children of New York City, from birth to young adulthood.

One New York City father in the video said it best: “I love my kids very much and… if something happened to me…it’s nice to know that there are organizations out there (like The Children’s Aid Society) who can really step up and help people in need.”

For more information on our programs and services, go to our website or call us at (212) 949-4800. Remember, you can make a difference.

Mixing Art and Technology, and Finding Empowerment

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After struggling in high school, Nazaury Delgado, 19, was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology on a full scholarship (click for more photos)

After struggling in high school, Nazaury Delgado, 19, was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology on a full scholarship (click for more photos)

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund recently featured this Children’s Aid story, written by Jennifer Lee, about Nazaury Delgado’s struggle to change from likely high school drop-out to college student. Below is an excerpt from the original article:

In March Nazaury Delgado shyly showed his iPod Touch to an art teacher, flicking his finger across the images he had created with Photoshop on his home computer.

The teacher, Cornelius Van Wright, asked if he could print them out. After he had looked at them again, Mr. Van Wright hurriedly summoned the rest of the teachers at the Fred Dolan Art Academy, a Saturday arts program that works with at-risk teenagers in the Bronx.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Neil Waldman, an illustrator who founded the arts program, and who was stunned by the carefully manipulated overlays of faces and colorful textures. “I almost fell on my face. The work was so remarkable.”

For years, Mr. Delgado, then a high school senior, had been considered a solid, if unremarkable, artist in the program — though one who had benefited from its discipline. At 11, he had found his father dying of a drug overdose in the bedroom. He fell in with the wrong circle of friends, had run-ins with the police and straddled the line of failing classes. He suffers from a learning disability that makes reading difficult.

But in his junior year, he had asked Mr. Waldman, “Is it too late for me?”

It wasn’t. If he focused on his art and schoolwork, he was told, he could graduate from high school and perhaps go to a community college.

“I decided to become a different person, change my attitude,” said Mr. Delgado, now 19.

But as the teachers looked at the images, they realized that Mr. Delgado should be applying to the top art schools in the nation. With just one week before the last round of applications were due at many schools, he and his teachers scrambled to get the full slate of requirements done: a self-portrait, a three-dimensional model, a logo and an artistic interpretation of the quotation “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

And they also included a portfolio of his computer-manipulated pieces. While the art academy assignments had left him uninspired, the flexibility of Photoshop empowered Mr. Delgado. Often working through the night, he transformed humdrum photos taken with a budget camera into gripping, rippling portraits using transparencies, overlays and gradients.

“There are some people who have an innate ability to create spectacle, something innate that you can’t teach,” Mr. Waldman said.

The news came in June: Mr. Delgado had been accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology on a full scholarship.

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 Michelle V. Agins for The New York Times