Fatu’s Story

At 19, Fatu’s future looks bright. She plans to go to Monroe College in the fall to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer. She’s currently going to school and working full-time as a paralegal at Queens Defenders, which provides free services to low-income people. Not long ago, she was a recipient of those services.

You see, the future did not always look so bright for Fatu. When she came to live in one of SCO’s residences for youth in foster care in 2018, she had had a difficult childhood, and she’d been in trouble with the law.

When Fatu was 12, her mother returned to their native Liberia with her younger brother, leaving Fatu with an abusive family friend in Queens. She eventually ran away, joined a gang and got into trouble.

When she first came to SCO, Fatu was confrontational with staff and other residents. But despite her rocky start at her new home, SCO staff has been behind her since day one. They encouraged her to further her education and pursue her GED. They showed her the right way to do things, and most of all, they showed her they cared.

Fatu’s former Queens Defenders lawyer, Anthony Martone, played a pivotal role in her turnaround. He saw her potential and went the extra mile to help her by initiating an internship program at the firm for past clients who’ve been through the juvenile justice system. Fatu was the first intern and became the first full-time hire from the program.

Fatu is positive, respectful, and focused. She loves her job and it has inspired her to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.

Her turnaround has been nothing short of miraculous, and it serves as an inspiration to other youth. Fatu is living proof of what is possible with a positive attitude, hard work, perseverance, and the help of caring adults who never stop believing in you.

See Fatu’s story in THE CITY.

(Photo: Ben Fractenberg-THE CITY)

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History

SCO Family of Services has responded to the needs of New Yorkers for more than a century. It all began in 1895, when a group of wealthy women established the Country Home for Convalescent Babies in Upstate New York. The Country Home admitted “sick and suffering small children, whom hardly anyone else can take” after they were released from the hospital following an acute illness, and before they were returned home to their families. The children recuperated at the home for several weeks.

Two years later, a new home was built on 14 acres in Sea Cliff, Long Island. The Bakers, Carnegies, Morgans, Phipps and Whitneys, in addition to many other prominent New York families, supported the facility. During World War II, the Home closed briefly and then reopened in 1947 under the auspices of the Diocese of Brooklyn, when it was renamed St. Christopher’s Home.

In 1967, Foster Home Program begins; the first home is licensed.

In 1978, Center for Family Life opened in Sunset Park, Brooklyn to promote positive outcomes for children, adults and families through a comprehensive range of neighborhood-based family and social services.

In 1985, St. Christopher’s Home merged with the Briarwood, Queens-based Ottilie Home for Children, which cares for adolescents with serious emotional needs and developmental disabilities. Originally known as the Ottilie Orphan Home, it was named after Ottilie Seibert, a young woman who died of pneumonia, leaving behind two young children. Ottilie’s father, John Miller, founded the orphanage in 1892 as a memorial to his only child.  The merger between St. Christopher’s Home and Ottilie resulted in St. Christopher-Ottilie.

A second merger took place in 1996 with Madonna Heights Services in Dix Hills, Long Island. Madonna Heights serves adolescent girls recovering from trauma and/or struggling with behavioral health issues, as well as women coping with domestic violence, battling addiction, and/or in need of temporary shelter.

In 1999, St. Christopher-Ottilie merged with Family Dynamics, an organization in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn dedicated to improving the lives of children by strengthening families struggling with poverty, abuse, teen pregnancy and drug addiction.

As a reflection of the tremendous growth in the scope and range of our services, we changed our name from St. Christopher-Ottilie to SCO Family of Services in December, 2004.

Today, SCO Family of Services provides a comprehensive array of services to children and families throughout New York City and Long Island, helping 60,000 New Yorkers to meet critical needs and build a strong foundation for their future.

In the fall of 2012, we opened eight Close to Home residences for court-involved youth in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx as part of a citywide juvenile justice reform effort. About the same time, we opened three new Early Childhood Centers in Corona, Queens and Brownsville, Brooklyn through the NYC EarlyLearn initiative.

We responded immediately after Hurricane Sandy to help hundreds of families affected by the storm, providing case management in Far Rockaway, Queens and in New York City hotels where displaced families were housed.

In January 2013, we were awarded a grant by the NYC Council to expand the Center for Family Life’s successful worker cooperative program.

In the months and years ahead we will continue to meet new challenges and respond to emerging needs as we help children, individuals and families build a strong foundation for the future.

Declan’s Forever Family

"Adopting Declan was life-changing. You felt the ground shift." Learn More

Fatu’s Story

Changing Her Trajectory

At 19, Fatu’s future looks bright. She plans to go to Monroe College in the fall to follow her dream of becoming a lawyer. Learn More

Last year,

94%

of children in our early education centers met or exceeded goals for social-emotional development

We help

4,100

people with special needs develop skills to reach their full potential

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