Jasmine’s Story

I entered foster care at 16 years old and was placed in the home of “Aunt” Nessa, as I liked to call her. Few people knew of my situation; it was our little secret. I was embarrassed by the family dysfunction that led me to this strange place in my life, and with the support of my SCO caseworkers, I realized that education was my way out.

My goal was to attend Spelman College. I faced some naysayers; guidance counselors who said it was too expensive, others who felt I would never get in. But my SCO caseworkers and staff supported my decision. They stayed on top of me, making sure I filled out every document and scholarship. It was the staff’s unwavering support and positive reinforcement that sustained me.

I was accepted to Spelman with scholarships from several organizations as well as financial support from SCO’s education and permanency program, which helped me afford my housing.

But that was just the start of my journey. During summer break, I earned an internship volunteering with foster youth and their families through AmeriCorps that changed my life. I didn’t want any special treatment, so no one at my job was aware of my status as a foster youth. But as I worked in the family visiting room, much like a fly on the wall, I watched young people about my age visiting with the children they had lost custody of, some pregnant again. I saw a vicious cycle happening before my eyes.

It was that summer I realized that as a woman of color, as a foster youth, and as a human being who just cares, it would be a disservice if I didn’t take advantage of my unique pairing of lived experiences and desire to affect change.

Today, I am at Teachers College Columbia University earning my Masters in Clinical Psychology on a full scholarship, so that I, too, can be a source of support for youth in need.

Shalini’s Story

Shalini is a young woman who knows exactly where she’s headed. A chance experience tutoring young children as a high school student while in SCO’s foster care program ignited her passion for teaching, and now guides her every step.

With a razor-sharp focus on achieving her goals, Shalini has mapped out her immediate and long-term plans. First, she’ll graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree in early education. And then it’s off to graduate school to earn her master’s in teaching. A few years ago, these might have been considered lofty goals, but with the right supports in place, Shalini is well on her way.

Shalini was placed in SCO’s Foster Care program after the death of her father 9 years ago. While safe and well-cared for by her foster family, she was angry and worried about the future. “I needed a team to support me and advise me, and give me the right tools to succeed,” she reflects.

And a team is exactly what she received. SCO provided the resources, services, and guidance she needed to become her best self. During high school, a team of education and mental health specialists helped Shalini overcome obstacles and helped her to realize she “did not have to transition to adulthood alone.” She participated in mentoring programs, made new connections, and built relationships with other young adults in care. As her confidence grew, Shalini began tutoring children from a nearby elementary school as part of her program with SCO. That was the “aha” moment that shaped her future. She fell in love with teaching!

When it was time for college, SCO’s staff helped Shalini complete applications, navigate financial aid, and apply to the Dorm Project, which enables her to live in a college dorm all year round. Her SCO coach remains a constant presence and is even helping Shalini work towards getting a driver’s license.

Today, Shalini is a rising junior at Hunter College, and we have no doubt she will achieve all she sets out to accomplish.

Family Care Provider Recruitment Form

Please complete this form if you are interested in opening your home to an adult with developmental disabilities.

  • Include name, sex, relationship, age and occupation for each individual.

Jasmine’s Story

Foster Care staff helps Jasmine turn lived experience to advocacy for others

It was the staff’s unwavering support and positive reinforcement that sustained me. Learn More

Shalini’s Story

Destined for success with support from her SCO team

That was the “aha” moment that shaped her future. Learn More

We help

1,100

children and young adults through foster care programs

93%

of adults with developmental disabilities living in SCO’s IRAs (group homes) made meaningful connections by participating in community inclusion activities

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to the SCO Newsletter to hear the latest on SCO’s programs, people, and happenings.