The Children’s Aid Society is celebrating its tenth year helping young people in the borough achieve their goals and stay on track when it comes to completing their education and leading healthy, productive lives.
The society now operates at 10 sites around the borough, mainly concentrated in Morrisania. The Children’s Aid Society provides foster care, children’s care, adolescent services, preventative care, and helps youth who are what they call “disconnected,” meaning that they’ve aged out of the foster care system and are out of school, but do not work.
The society opened the facilities over a 10 year period, strung along Southern Boulevard. This is part of the society’s approach to blanket a community with various kinds of services that it needs.
“We didn’t expect to grow so fast, but there are just so many under-resourced people in Morrisania,” said William Weisberg, Chief Operating Officer for Children’s Aid Society. “Our goal is to help a vibrant but under-resourced community blossom.”
The CAS’ Southern Boulevard Next Generation Center at East 172nd Street and Southern Boulevard includes a catering company that is staffed by young people who have aged out of the foster care system and are in need of learning skills like culinary arts as they leave their late teens and early twenties.
In addition, the CAS operates a teen pregnancy prevention program that stresses a “waist-up” approach to preventing pregnancy that Weisberg said has yielded impressive results.
Robin Fleshman, who oversees all of the society’s programs in the community schools it runs in partnership with the Department of Education, said that among the other services there is the inclusion of medical, dental, and mental health services in public schools. The CAS also operates a teen clinic where any teenager can go and speak to a counselor.
“They can speak to a counselor about sexually transmitted diseases or to get birth control,” Fleshman said. “We have also hired an outreach coordinator so we are able to provide health and dental services throughout the school day. This benefits the parents too because they don’t have to take a day off from work to visit a clinic or hospital.”
Citywide, Children’s Aid operates 21 schools in conjunction with the DOE.
Children who become involved in the Children’s Aid Society programs are also taking part in an innovative new program that has the society joining forces with New York University and The Teagle Foundation in a summer program where students are working with NYU professors for four weeks building an interactive website as group project.
The members of this special program are drawn from CAS’s Youth Council, founded six years ago. CAS youth council programming provides young people with extensive training in leadership development, public speaking, and writing testimony so they can learn to be advocates for themselves and their peers in any public forum.
©2010 Community News Group