Sep 22, 2020

How Your Gift Helps Miguel Navigate COVID-19

On a cold winter night in February 2017, a New York City police officer noticed a 17-year-old boy sleeping on the subway. His name was Miguel*, and he had immigrated here from Guatemala to escape the gang violence, murder, and extreme poverty in his native village. The police officer brought him to Bellevue Hospital, where he received treatment for issues related to the unsanitary conditions of living on the street. A month later, he was discharged and placed into Children’s Aid’s foster care program.

When he first entered his new foster home, he struggled with PTSD and suicidal thoughts. He was traumatized from his years growing up in severe poverty, where routine violence and crime were part of daily life. And, the more recent homelessness and separation from his family made his struggles even worse. Miguel was grateful for the roof over his head and the newfound stability offered by his new foster family, but he clearly needed a lot of support. The process took several years, but through the dedication of his Children’s Aid foster mother, and the mental health counseling he received from Children’s Aid, he began to transform into a young man with a purpose.

His Children’s Aid Case Manager, Caroline, explained that once Miguel started to overcome his PTSD and his depression, he became laser-focused on securing employment and supporting his family back home. “He explained that if his family cannot pay money to local gang leaders, their land can be taken, or worse — they can even be killed,” Caroline revealed. The problem, however, was that he wasn’t legally allowed to work in the United States, so Children’s Aid’s legal advocacy services created a plan for Miguel to secure his papers and gain employment. We worked closely with an immigration lawyer, and in November 2019, we secured a refugee-like status for Miguel called “special immigrant juvenile,” paving the way for him to obtain a green card.

Shortly after this bright spot, his progress was soon interrupted by the pandemic. “Right now, he wants nothing more than to be able to work as he needs to support his family,” Caroline said. Since securing his legal status, he has continued to look for work despite his fears of run-ins with increasingly hostile immigration services, but the challenging job market during the pandemic has made this incredibly difficult. During these uncertain times for Miguel, Children’s Aid continues to help him look for employment, and provides him with mental health support, basic necessities, shelter, and access to an enrichment center for young adults — services that are only possible because of the support you gave to Miguel. Thank you for being there for Miguel, and for so many others like him.

*An alias name is being used to protect the safety and security of our client. All details of the story are true.

Links:

Jul 22, 2020

Tiffany Had COVID-19. You Helped Her Recover.

Dr. Monica Mirchandani
Dr. Monica Mirchandani

For New York City’s lower-income children and families, living in what was once the global COVID-19 epicenter was a frightening ordeal. But because of generous friends like you, since the beginning of the pandemic we have been able to provide medical care to 7,000+, food relief to 45,000+, and family crisis interventions to 1,000+. Pandemic-related hunger still remains a severe issue in New York City (we started a fundraiser for hunger relief), but we are thankful that at least our health centers and hospitals are no longer overwhelmed and overcapacity. In fact, New York City has gone from being the global epicenter of the pandemic to reporting just a handful of new cases a day. Getting to this point was not easy at all — but you helped us get here.

Some of you may recognize the above picture of Dr. Monica Mirchandani from a tweet we featured her in. She is one of our pediatricians here at Children’s Aid working at our community health clinic in the South Bronx, one of the neighborhoods in New York City that was hardest hit. Through your support, she and other Children’s Aid staff have been able to deliver lifesaving work to so many who needed it. We want to tell you the story of one of those patients.

In April, 19-year-old Tiffany* presented to our Bronx Community Health Clinic with flu-like symptoms. She was immediately tested for COVID-19, and a few days later, she was given the results: Positive. Since Tiffany’s case wasn’t severe enough to go to the hospital, Dr. Mirchandani advised that she isolate herself in a room, drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, and continue to call our health clinic to monitor her symptoms. Since she was living in a homeless shelter with close communal living, it was imperative for the safety and well-being of those around her that she isolate herself in a room.

During her quarantine, Tiffany felt caged up and needed an outlet. Since Children’s Aid has more than 100 programs for children and youth, Dr. Mirchandani was able to refer her to a virtual teen recreation group to provide her with a social outlet. To help cope with the anxiety she was feeling, Dr. Mirchandani referred her to Children’s Aid’s mental health counseling. Tiffany was paired with a therapist who helped her focus on skills to cope with all the uncertainty and stress. Two weeks after being diagnosed, Tiffany made a full recovery thanks to the information, treatment, social outlet, and emotional support she received — and that is all thanks to your generosity. Thank you.

*Tiffany is an alias name used to protect the privacy of the patient

Amalfie Duran, LPN
Amalfie Duran, LPN
A Children's Aid Virtual Teen Recreation Group
A Children's Aid Virtual Teen Recreation Group
Social worker Debra DeTeresa provides tele-therapy
Social worker Debra DeTeresa provides tele-therapy
Jun 25, 2020

June 2020 Wagon Road Update

Remote school schedule
Remote school schedule

With our country facing unprecedented challenges, Children’s Aid remains focused on ensuring the safety and health of our clients, staff, and organization. For families living in poverty, worries about coronavirus extend beyond social distancing and stock prices, although those worries are real. The everyday challenges they face—hunger, homelessness, job insecurity, and limited access to health care—become even more destabilizing. Children’s Aid is needed, now more than ever, to meet the essential needs of our children, youth, and families.

 

The past 100+ days have been understandably tumultuous. The presence of COVID-19 in the New York City Metro area has resulted in Children’s Aid shifting how we deliver our programs and services across every division and program. Social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have forced us to develop and implement remote/virtual services. Health centers now provide tele-mental and physical health services, social workers check in with clients and youth over video conferencing (mandated in-person visits for youth in foster care still occur when needed), and our teachers quickly adapted curriculum for remote learning. Our initial response of emergency relief – medical care, food, diapers, technology for remote learning, stabilizing foster homes and placements – continues, and is now coupled with what the future looks like and what it means for us and the communities we serve.

As Children’s Aid looked toward the summer, we learned of millions of dollars in public funding cuts for summer programming. Therefore, we are leveraging private partnerships and the expertise of our staff to develop a plan that can be impactful throughout Children’s Aid. In addition to funding cuts, our senior leadership analyzed various models of summer programming (in-person, remote, hybrid) to determine the best way to deliver programs while keeping children, families, and staff safe and adhering to City and State guidelines. Ultimately, Children’s Aid decided not to hold summer camp as usual at Wagon Road in 2020. Therefore, Wagon Road will not have any campers on the premises.

In light of the emerging challenges faced by our clients, Children’s Aid aims to create and deliver a summer of healing for our communities by offering an array of activities and services to combat learning loss, help families recover from the trauma created by COVID-19, and keep youth on track to achieving their academic and personal goals. Specifically, our 2020 summer enrichment programs will be delivered in a remote format, for the first time in our 167-year history, as the pandemic continues to make in-person programming unsafe.

 

To ensure young people and their families do not lose access to enriching summer opportunities—when structured and supportive programming is needed more than ever—Children’s Aid is developing a virtual adaptation of our summer camp model for 2020. Using a combination of online learning tools, our virtual summer camp program will provide an array of arts, literacy, STEM, and recreation activities designed to combat learning loss and develop key social-emotional skillsets. The program will also connect participants’ families to the network of social services offered by Children’s Aid, helping them address the myriad challenges that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.

 

We look forward to the time when it is safe to bring campers back to Wagon Road to utilize the amazing campus—the pools, stables, baseball fields, ropes courses, and more. Until then, we are committed to providing engaging programming to meet the needs of our youth.

 

Thank you for your continued support of Children’s Aid and investment in our comprehensive network of services.

Food distribution in the Bronx
Food distribution in the Bronx
Coach's Corner with Mr. Weems
Coach's Corner with Mr. Weems
Online drawing game with teens
Online drawing game with teens
 
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