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Established in 1853, The Children's Aid Society is one of the country's oldest and largest non-sectarian child and family welfare agencies. Developed by Charles Loring Brace to assist New York City's homeless children who were neglected and labeled "street urchins," The Children's Aid Society now serves over 120,000 children and their families each year through more than 100 programs and services at over 30 sites in and around New York City. With a comprehensive range of programs and services, CAS is uniquely qualified to address every aspect of a child's life, from infancy through adolescence. Programs and services include health, adoption and foster care, medical and dental care, counseling, preventive services, summer camps and winter respite camps for the disabled, services for the homeless, recreation, the arts, education, college scholarship, job training and more.
In 1984, Dr. Carrera and The Children's Aid Society developed a model that is holistic and long-term, focusing on an "above the waist approach to pregnancy prevention." This approach centers on the belief that success in school, meaningful employment, access to quality medical and health services, and interactions with high caliber, role model adults, have a potent contraceptive effect on teens. The program centers on all the forces and factors affecting the life of a teen at that time in their development, and discusses sexual issues within the context of an adolescent's whole life.
The program incorporates a separate parent participation and includes seven program components: educational support, career awareness and job club, lifetime sports, creative expression, comprehensive medical and dental services, mental health services and family life and sex education. The overall philosophy of this approach is based on the belief that young people with whom we work are not "at risk" but rather "at promise." Their goodness, gifts and possibilities constitute the context of our work with them.
Our mission is to provide support to local and national agencies and institutions implementing programs to reduce teen pregnancy in their communities. Programs to reduce adolescent pregnancy are typically requested by communities where poverty is a central issue. Our services are available to all individuals, regardless of language, physical ability, sexual orientation or gender, with an average participant age between 12 and 18 years of age. Programs are designed to offer teens a supportive and nurturing environment, where they can learn about sexual responsibility while developing goals and aspirations for life. Simultaneously, parents are involved in the program to learn how they can assist in their child's development.
Substandard housing, poor health care and insufficient education are typical characteristics of neighborhoods in need of these programs. Single parent homes, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicare and food stamps are common facts of life for the families who participate. Most of our work is with individuals of African American and Latino backgrounds, with the exception of our national programs which sometimes serve individuals of Southeast Asian and Appalachian Caucasian descent. Currently, we have 21 replications and 30 other programs in 20 states throughout the country.