Letter from the President, Board of Trustees

The current economic crisis is straining our social fabric, making The Children’s Aid Society’s work even more vital to the increasing number of children and families who need our help.

Direct referrals to Children’s Aid’s Family Wellness domestic violence program were up 39 percent this fiscal year over last. Economic and other stressors can trigger abuse or escalate existing problematic behaviors, including substance abuse and alcoholism, which lead to family strife, abuse and neglect. Children’s Aid’s Office of Public Policy & Client Advocacy (OPPCA) reports a rise in eviction cases and subprime displacement from two or three cases a month to an average of twenty.

These services help keep family members safer and together. Our Adoption and Foster Care, Preventive and Homemaker Services also strive to keep children safe and achieve or retain permanency. In the past fiscal year, we cared for only slightly more foster children than the previous year, but saw a 20 percent increase in adoptions.

For-profit corporations streamline their businesses in times of economic turmoil, but The Children’s Aid Society must expand its services to ensure that we can help as many children as possible while remaining fiscally responsible. To this end, Children’s Aid’s Board has approved the use of an additional $1.1 million from the agency’s reserves for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2009–2010), above the five percent customarily authorized. Even with this additional commitment, we still had to reduce next year’s budget by $4 million to account for inflation and loss of revenue. The Children’s Aid Society hasn’t had to take such large-scale measures since the Great Depression. The additional spending of our reserves demonstrates our commitment to shepherding New York City’s children through this difficult time, by providing the individual and family supports they need to grow into happy, healthy and successful adults.

Despite all the gloom and doom in the news, The Children’s Aid Society’s Board, leadership and staff remain optimistic about the future—this is an essential attribute for those who work with children. Our leadership and staff are naturally forward-thinking and the Board Members are stepping up to match this optimism. While acknowledging and appreciating the hardships that everyone faces, we call on our donors to increase their support as demand for our services grows.

Angela Diaz, M.D., M.P.H.
President, Board of Trustees