The Children’s Aid Society

At Children’s Aid we help children—and their families—living in poverty to succeed and thrive. We have been serving children for more than 160 years, a longevity that is a testament to our ability to adapt to the ever-changing needs of youth. After all, you don’t thrive all these years without being innovative. Today, Children’s Aid serves nearly 50,000 children and their families at more than 50 sites throughout New York City. All aspects of children’s development are addressed as they grow, from health care to academics to sports and the arts. Because stable children live in stable families, a host of services are available to parents, including housing assistance, domestic violence counseling, and health care access.

The Children's Aid Community Schools

Beginning in 1992, Children’s Aid has operated community schools in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. Starting with the success of I.S. 218 and P.S. 5 in Washington Heights, the effort has grown to encompass 22 elementary, middle, and high schools located in several of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. These partnerships—which draw upon a rich tradition of community schooling that can be traced back to social reformers such as John Dewey and Jane Addams—have become the Children's Aid model: a powerful strategy that draws on a strong body of current research about the supports, services, and opportunities young people need to thrive.

National Center for Community Schools

In 1994, Children’s Aid created the National Center for Community Schools in an effort to respond to the increased demand for information and advice about community schools implementation. NCCS facilitates learning opportunities that draw on our community schools practice in New York City, as well as on lessons learned from around the country, including Children's Aid adaptations and other models. NCCS also plays a central role in local and national advocacy to advance the community schools movement and highlight this approach in the broader education agenda. Visitors from more than 74 countries have come to see Children’s Aid community schools in action, and to learn from our community schools’ experienced practitioners. NCCS has provided substantial multi-year consultation to colleagues in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and other nations. NCCS is one of three original founders of the Coalition for Community Schools, and has been a leading and active member ever since. 

Some Highlights Since 1994

  • Provided implementation assistance to most major national and international community school initiatives.
  • Supported the development of Children’s Aid local community schools over the past 22 years.
  • Co-founded (with Joy Dryfoos and Ira Harkavy) and helped lead the Coalition for Community Schools.
  • Hosted more than 15,000 visitors to our New York City community schools.
  • Sponsored 15 national community schools conferences (Fundamentals and Practicums).
  • Gave hundreds of public presentations on community schools.
  • Wrote, published, and disseminated more than 30,000 copies of iconic guidebooks on community schools (Building a Community School and Building Community Schools: A Guide for Action).
  • Co-wrote, with Joy Dryfoos and Carol Barkin, Community Schools in Action: Lessons from a Decade of Practice (Oxford University Press, 2005).
  • Commissioned a major study on the Social Return on Investment of Community Schools, working with the Finance Project.
  • Developed training curricula and created a wide variety of planning and implementation tools for the field, including needs assessment protocols, the developmental triangle framework, the four capacities, and the stages of development of community schools.
  • Partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to assist the Federal Full-Service Community Schools grantees.
  • Represented the U.S. at several international community school conferences, including those in England, Holland, Wales, Indonesia, Scotland, and the Czech Republic.
  • Partnered with Attendance Works to focus national attention on chronic absence as a key barrier to children’s school success; and assisted NYC to create the most comprehensive in-school mentoring program in the nation.
  • Assisted the NYC mayor’s office and the Department of Education to create the country’s largest community school system.