Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

For more than 156 years, The Children’s Aid Society has made the difference for children and families at critical moments in their lives.

We weave a broad web of support—with programs, health care, resources and mentors—that helps youth develop their strengths, their leadership skills, a sense of right and wrong and a hopeful vision for their future. We equip them to make good choices on their passage to adolescence—and beyond. This is our approach; it happens in our community schools, in our community centers, our teen programs and through the Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, a holistic program that empowers youth with a rich sense of themselves and their future options, and that was recently found to meet Top Tier Evidence of Effectiveness by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy.

Children’s Aid helps recent immigrant parents build vital bridges to their new culture through our community schools in Washington Heights. Expectant newcomer families find the medical and social support they need at the schools before, during and after their baby’s birth, thanks to our pregnancy coaches, doulas and Early Head Start programs. From the start, we welcome that new child and his or her family into the fold of their community school, where we support healthy development such as learning of language and age-appropriate play and offer a plethora of programs for parents, including ESL classes and job training. By the time a child starts kindergarten, the family and child have been part of the school community for five years, which is very empowering for any five-year-old and tremendously helpful for the family.

Transitioning from childhood to adolescence, from one culture to another, from juvenile justice or from foster care back into society... These are some of the many critical moments during which we as a society can lose a child for good—to crime, drugs, the streets, entrenched poverty, teen pregnancy—or can turn that child around, so he or she can create a successful, productive, happy and healthy life. For millions of young people, Children’s Aid has been there for the turnaround.

Today’s economic climate brings special challenges for Children’s Aid, and the agency itself is at a critical juncture. We face a perfect storm of reduced government spending on social services, decreased donor and foundation giving, diminished reserves and, at the same time, increased demand on our services. For us, business goes up when the economy goes down.

To weather this storm, we must continue our tireless pursuit of innovation to help New York City’s poorest, most vulnerable children and families. The programs that are successful, proven institutions today—such as community schools and the teen pregnancy prevention program, medical foster care and juvenile justice—were on the cutting edge of social innovation when they were created. They were funded with private money, which allowed us to take necessary bold steps, evaluate results and communicate outcomes so others could learn from our model.

We must maintain sufficient unrestricted private resources despite the financial climate so we may continue to be creative and effective every day in improving the lives of poor kids. We must continue to be incensed that there are so many teens in the juvenile justice system, that children go without basic health care, that the teen pregnancy rate continues to be untenable. There is an enormous social cost for not intervening at critical junctures in children’s lives.

Richard Buery, our new CEO, knows these costs. He grew up in one of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. He went to Harvard, got a law degree from Yale, and decided to return to his East New York neighborhood to start Groundwork, Inc., which works to better the lives of people living in Brooklyn’s public housing projects. At age 37, Richard is a man whose entire career has been fueled by energy and a willingness to hear new ideas and try out novel concepts. As I retire, I know he is just the leader that The Children’s Aid Society needs at this critical moment: an innovative thinker who is bold, entrepreneurial and a strong voice for the poor children and families of this city.

C. Warren Moses
Chief Executive Officer