Children’s Aid Society of New York

Organization
Organization Name: 
Children’s Aid Society of New York
Organization Director: 
Dr. Michael Carrera, Founder
Program Name: 
Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program
Street Address: 
The Children’s Aid Society, 105 East 22nd Street
City: 
New York
State: 
NY
ZIP: 
10010
Phone Number: 
(212) 949-4800
Contact
Contact Person: 
Dr. Michael Carrera
Contact Title: 
Founder
Program
Organization Profile: 
 The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) is a nonprofit organization originally established to serve the children of New York City; it has recently expanded its scope to other urban areas along the east coast and in the Midwest. The CAS mission is to provide “comprehensive support for children in need, from birth to young adulthood, and for their families, to fill the gaps between what children have and what they need to thrive.” To fulfill their mission, CAS provides children with the support and opportunities needed to become happy, healthy, and successful adults. CAS intends its services to address every aspect of a child’s life, from infancy through adolescence, and provide the guidance and resources a family needs to ensure its children’s well being.  The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is one of many programs supported by CAS and the model is now being used in nine locations by CAS employees in New York and in 12 locations nationally including Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Newark, New Jersey; Flint, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and New London, Connecticut.
Program Structure/Design: 
In 1984, Dr. Michael Carrera founded the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program at CAS. The program operates a long-term, holistic model to reduce teen pregnancy by focusing on all the forces and factors that affect youth’s lives. The model approaches sex- and sexuality-related issues as part of this holistic context. The Carrera model is based on the belief that success in school, meaningful employment, access to quality medical and health services, and interaction with caring adult role models have a potent contraceptive effect on youth. The stated mission of the program is “To provide support to local and national agencies and institutions implementing programs to reduce teen pregnancy in their communities.” The Carrerra Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program includes seven program components:
  1. Educational support;
  2. Career awareness and job club;
  3. Lifetime sports;
  4. Creative expression;
  5. Comprehensive medical and dental services;
  6. Mental health services and family life; and
  7. Sex education.
These programs are provided in collaboration with local school districts with the Carrera curriculum woven within the school day for the students. Program activities are held in schools in locations accessible to all students. The model works with all youth, and targets specifically communities in need to reduce poverty, which means a wide spectrum of youth, including youth with disabilities, are enrolled in the program. All program sites serve significant populations of youth receiving special education services, including over half of students enrolled at the Harlem site. Entire grade levels are served by the Carrera program, beginning with sixth grade and continuing ideally through twelfth grade. The Carrera program operates only in schools that have the continuity of 6-12 grade buildings or campuses to provide the optimum seven-year span of participation. The majority of program sites are located in communities with high incidence of poverty. The Carrera program makes services available to all youth, regardless of language, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. On average, participants are between 12 and 18 years old. Carrera programs offer youth 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 Carrera program as well to learn how they can assist in their child's development. The youth are provided no-cost, comprehensive medical services and comprehensive assessment for other supports that may be needed to remove barriers and increase access to other community programs. In 2009, the Carrera Program, with a Toyota Foundation grant, has launched an Environmental Education Initiative in its Flint and Toledo program sites. Paralleling current and projected growth in the area of “green jobs” and targeting regions with historically high unemployment rates, Carrera will integrate environmental stewardship and literacy throughout the program to increase the ability of young people to pursue these jobs.
States of Operation: 
CT
DC
MD
MI
NJ
NY
OH
ODEP Funded: 
No
Innovative Practices
School-Based Preparatory Experiences: 

The program conducts the integrated school model daily during the school week and on most Saturdays, during Saturday school. Supports include a minimum of one hour of homework help, tutoring, enrichment and/or remediation at least four times per week. After the school year is over, the program continues with a six-week summer program with students, beginning when they are initially engaged in the 6th grade and all the way through high school graduation and college admission. The model implements programming during the school day during advisory and guidance periods, resource time, and other times when program staff can conduct weekly programming. In some cases, a program may add an additional 45 minutes to certain days to guarantee the inclusion of all model components. All program staff are CAS employees paid by foundation support. There are no additions to teachers’ schedules in the schools implementing the model.

Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: 

One of the seven major components of the Carrera program is the weekly Job Club conducted by employment specialists. Through both process and content it allows the teens to explore career and professional work experiences available to them. Job Club becomes a regular class period within the school day. Program staff are certified teachers, and, in many sites, participation in the Job Club is given course credit and is graded.

By using a structured curriculum, the program provides participants with concrete experiences in the world of work. Youth learn about career options, how to accurately complete working papers, successfully complete employment applications, and prepare a resume. Participants take part in exercises like job interview role plays, discussions of work skills, and critiques of appropriate work attire. In partnership with contributors and youth-friendly local bank programs, participants are also provided seed money and open a bank account.

To model the work environment, youth must track their hours spent at Job Club, and they receive a stipend or minimum hourly wage for each hour they participate in the training program. Youth are required to deposit the stipend into their individual savings accounts monthly and are assisted with ongoing monitoring and balancing of the account. Carrera staff provide an orientation to the program for families, which includes reviewing the expectations for Job Club and the funds being managed by the youth.

The model implements a graduated system to provide employment experience. During the school year, Carrera program staff, youth, and families work together to monitor academics and help teens to access appropriate part-time work opportunities in the community. As students move into job sites, staff and youth determine the proper attire needed for the youth’s job, and the program provides the youth with access to the clothing they need to go to their job.

In the summer, Job Club gears up to provide additional support for students while not in school. Students continue to attend the curriculum-based weekly sessions and are assisted in obtaining part- or full-time summer positions.

Those youth who are twelve and thirteen years old (too young for working papers and typical part-time jobs) participate in the Entrepreneurial Apprenticeship Program. Through this program they, along with older youth who have chosen to participate, work at various community functions, such as basketball games and dances selling hot dogs, soda, juice, and snacks. In addition, these youth develop other products for sale, such as buttons, holiday wreaths, and other items. Youth earn a stipend or minimum hourly wage for their work and must track their hours and keep their bank accounts active.

Connecting Activities: 

Participants in the program receive no-cost, comprehensive medical and dental care, including reproductive health and contraception counseling, and weekly mental health classes and individual counseling as needed by licensed social workers. Overall services include:

  • Comprehensive physical & oral exams;

  • Own primary health care provider;

  • Glasses, skin care, vision screening, and specialty care;

  • Follow-up as needed;

  • Urgent care visits provided;

  • Insurance enrollment;

  • Financial literacy; and

  • Other services as needed.

Family Involvement and Supports: 

Parent activities are an integral part of the model and are offered at each site. They are offered to all adults in the community, not only parents of participating teens, because the community as a whole is a major influence in the lives of these young people.

The Family Life/Sex Education class is followed by weekly parent sessions during each program cycle, after the teen's program is finished. Snacks, babysitting, cab fare and other incentives are offered to increase the likelihood of participation and address common barriers of parent participation. Regular parent meetings are also scheduled to discuss program activities with parents and to allow for feedback. Assessments are then made regarding parent needs to allow for adequate parental programming. Some common needs are computer training, resume writing, ESL, job placement assistance, parenting classes, health education, and advocating with public services.

In addition to current program services, social activities are scheduled on an ongoing basis to allow for parent socialization and interaction with staff. When planning parent activities, babysitting, transportation and, occasionally, gifts are included to increase participation. A graduation ceremony and family dinner culminates each annual parent program. The 2010 graduation will be the 24th consecutive event of this extraordinary program.

Evidence of Success (Information and Analysis)
Data: 

An annual evaluation of the complete seven-component program is conducted independently. Internally, a unique technology-based system is used for tracking and monitoring each of the youth participating, which allows schools and Carrera staff to note students’ milestones and challenges. An overview of the Integrated School Model is available at http://stopteenpregnancy.childrensaidsociety.org/success/overview-integrated-school-model-early-indications-success. Ongoing evaluation of the programs measure success in three levels:

Student-Level Outcomes

  • Increased and improved connections with adults;

  • Improved management of emotions;

  • Improved self-expression and communication;

  • Greater engagement in learning;

  • Strong sense of “group life,” with less fighting, stealing, and bullying among the members; and

  • Gains in knowledge about their bodies as well as experience working through peer pressure, which helps them to make better choices about healthy living.

Classroom and Teacher Outcomes

  • Calmer classrooms;

  • Improved classroom management based on support for implementing effective strategies in managing challenging behavior; and

  • Shifting of the teachers’ mindset around adolescent development through a greater understanding of overall youth development.

School-Level Outcomes

  • Changing school culture to include more youth development;

  • Faster interventions in crisis situations;

  • Earlier identification of needs;

  • Better parent communication and connection; and

  • Stronger sense of belonging, cohesion, and school spirit in the cohorts served by the Integrated In-School Model.

Recently, surveys were given to teachers at participating New York City schools to determine if program objectives were being met, and what, if any, impact teachers believe services were having on them, the students, and the school. The highlights are as follows:

  • 74% of the teachers felt that the Carrera program had changed the dynamics of their classroom;

  • 54% of the teachers said that they had changed the way they approach the socio-emotional health of their students due to Carrera;

  • 84% of the teachers felt that the provision of comprehensive, no-cost medical and dental services was very helpful to students; teachers talked specifically about vision screening and its impact; and

  • 56% of teachers worked in collaboration with Carrera social workers regarding approaches to managing student behavior on a regular basis.

Third-Party Documentation: 

Experimental Research Study:

  • Philliber, S., Kaye, J. W., Herrling, S., & West, E. (2002). Preventing pregnancy and improving health care access among teenagers: An evaluation of the Children's Aid Society - Carrera Model. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34(5), 244-251. [Available at www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/3424402.pdf (Acrobat file).]

The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program has been rigorously evaluated through an experimental design research study. Philliber, Kaye, and West conducted a randomized control trial evaluation of the after-school model with six agencies in New York City. One hundred disadvantaged 13 to 15 year olds at each of the six sites were randomly assigned to either their usual youth program (control group) or to the CAS-Carrera program. At the three-year follow-up of these young people, the research found the following results:

Academics Outcomes:

  • CAS-Carrera participants had significantly higher PSAT scores than did control youth (p<.05).
  • While there were no significant differences in self-reported grades, program youth were more likely to believe that the quality of their schoolwork had improved.
  • Program youth were much more likely (64% vs. 49%, p<.001) to have gone on a college visit than control youth.

Youth Development & Career Preparation Outcomes:

  • CAS-Carrera participants were significantly more likely than controls to have opened a bank account, to have had work experience, and to have used word processing, the Internet, and email.

Outcomes related to reducing adolescent pregnancy and improving adolescent health outcomes:

  • Both male and female CAS-Carrera participants had lower rates of sexual activity than did the control group.
  • Females in the program were significantly more likely than control girls to used birth control.
  • Female CAS-Carrera participants had one-third the odds of becoming pregnant as the control group (.31 odds ratio).
  • Males' gains in knowledge of sexuality and reproductivity were significantly higher than such gains among control boys.
  • Male CAS-Carrera participants were also more likely than control boys to have a medical home, to have had their hepatitis B vaccination, and to have made a reproductive health care visit in the past year.

More details about this study and additional evaluations of the program are available at:

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