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Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School Featured in Education Week

Last summer, Children’s Aid opened its first charter school, Children’s Aid College Prep, to provide a high-quality education to young children in the Bronx. The school serves over 130 kindergarten and first-grade students and prioritizes students who are English language learners, at-risk of academic failure and/or currently involved in the child welfare system.  The school’s mission is to ensure that children achieve academic success by providing them with the best instructional practices, advancing their physical, emotional, and social needs, fostering a sense of pride and hope, and serving as a safe and engaging community hub.

Chlidren’s Aid College Prep implements a community school model proven effective in improving academic performance, increasing attendance and retention, building confidence and self-esteem, and addressing a need for health services among poor children. Community schools differ from other schools because they provide comprehensive services for children, including medical, dental, and mental health services, after-school programming, summer camps and family support services. Children’s Aid College Prep incorporates community school best practices with a newly designed, rigorous instructional program that puts students on a college-bound path early.

A January 2013 article in Education Week describes the school’s approach, in a story focused on how educators are taking a comprehensive approach to learning by addressing the social-emotional needs of students.

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

  1. REASSURE CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE SAFE. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
  2. MAKE TIME TO TALK. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or housework. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feeling
  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
  • Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
  1. REVIEW SAFETY PROCEDURES. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
  2. OBSERVE CHILDREN'S EMOTIONAL STATE. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned
  3. LIMIT TELEVISION VIEWING OF THESE EVENTS. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Be aware of the on-going replays shown on the news about the tragic event. Many children, especially the young, do not realize that the newsreel is being looped for replay; they actually believe that the awful event is happening over and over again. Turn the television off. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety, intense fear or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
  4. MAINTAIN A NORMAL ROUTINE. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, exercise... and hugs. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed after being exposed to severe trauma.

Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children

  • Schools are safe places. School staff work with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep children safe.
  • The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).
  • We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
  • There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
  • Don’t dwell on the worst possibilities. Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and the probability that it will affect our school.
  • Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
  • Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
  • Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.

Download a copy of  Talking to Children About Violence: Tip for Parents and Teachers

Source: The Center for School Mental Health



Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School to Hold September Board of Trustees Meeting

New York, NY – The Trustees of the Children’s Aid Society College Prep Charter School (CASCCS) will be holding its next meeting on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 from 5-8pm at the Children's Aid College Prep Charter School at 1919 Prospect Ave, Bronx NY 10460.

Trustee meetings are subject to the public notification requirements of the Open Meetings Law.

Agenda is as follows:

Committee meetings
School Updates

Slated to open in August 2012 in the Morrisania section of the Bronx, Children's Aid College Prep will open serving 120 Kindergarten and 1st grade students. The school will add one grade each year until it reaches its full size as a K-5 school. The school will be a full-service community school that seeks to serve students and families who live in CSD 12 with a rigorous academic program supplemented by a range of enrichment and support services to promote student success. In addition to tapping into the strengths that students will bring with them to school, the CAS-CCS will make serving the needs of students who are English Language Learners, at-risk of academic failure, and/or currently involved in the child welfare system a special priority.

For more information about this meeting, please contact Drema Brown, The Children's Aid Society’s Vice President of Education, at 718-860-8566 or