November 4th, 2002
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and ACS Commissioner William C. Bell Announce New York City’s First “Day of the Child” Celebration
-November 10th Event Aims to Recruit Mentors for Children in Foster Care
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that New York City will collaborate with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, Children Uniting Nations (CUN), to celebrate the City’s first “Day of the Child” on Sunday, November 10th. The purpose of the event is to recruit caring, responsible adults interested in mentoring children in foster care through the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Mentoring Program. Eligible New Yorkers who sign up for the event will be paired with a child in foster care, which will hopefully be the beginning of a rewarding and long-term mentoring experience for both the mentor and mentee. The event is being held at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum located at Pier 86, 12th Avenue and 46th Street, in Manhattan from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Mayor was joined at the announcement by ACS Commissioner William C. Bell, Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, Victoria Rowell, former foster child and actress from “The Young and the Restless” and “Diagnosis Murder,” Daphna Ziman, Chairperson of the nonprofit organization Children Uniting Nations, and mentor Melvin Alston and his mentee Josiah Hayes.
“It is critical for children who are in foster care in New York City to develop meaningful connections with adults in their communities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Although many children in foster care may have some connection to their biological parents or may have foster parents, relatives, teachers or members of their faith community who they can lean on for support, far too many lack real connections to positive, caring adults. We all must do more to support the City’s most vulnerable youth. ‘The Day of the Child’ is a terrific opportunity for interested New Yorkers to have a great day of fun and learn more about long-term mentoring opportunities.”
ACS will match between 300 and 500 children in foster care with adult volunteers for the day. These pairs of children and adults will enjoy musical performances, games, food, face painting, interactive activities, arts and crafts throughout the day. Leaders from the community and the entertainment industry including Victoria Rowell and members from the cast of “Law & Order” will volunteer for the day and the Grammy-nominated bands City High and Prymary Colorz will provide musical entertainment.
“Although the number of children in foster care has been reduced by 40 percent in the past years from 41,000 children in care in 1996 to 27,500 today, there is more work that needs to be done in terms of supporting those children who are in care,” said ACS Commissioner Bell. “Across the nation, people recognize that mentoring is an effective way to bring constancy and consistency to young people. Mentors serve as realistic role models and can help youth develop crucial life skills that better enable them to be happy, healthy, productive kids. The ACS Mentoring Program is just one way ACS is focusing on increasing the available support systems for children in foster care.”
Children Uniting Nations has held the “Day of the Child” for the past three years on the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and has garnered celebrity support and media coverage. As a result, the County of Los Angeles has been able to greatly expand its mentoring program for children in foster care and bring awareness to the challenges children in foster care face. New York City hopes to accomplish the same results.
Adult volunteer mentors for the day must be 21 years of age and will pay a $25 registration fee for the event. Volunteers will be thoroughly screened by ACS staff prior to the event. A one-hour training on the day of the event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the children will arrive at 10:00 a.m. Mentors are being recruited through universities, community groups and corporations. As the official media sponsor for the event, The Daily News has been running a special advertisement with a message from the Mayor to identify additional volunteers. American Express is another generous sponsor of the event.
People interested in volunteering for the “Day of the Child” can access a flyer and application on the ACS website at www.nyc.gov/acs or call (212) 676-2813.