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Northwell Health, NYC Administration for Children’s Services, Center for Fair Futures & Foster Agencies Launch Program to Improve Health Services for Young Adults Transitioning out of Care

December 15, 2023 / Independent Youth News

Kicking off in Queens, NY, a new public-private partnership pilot program will complement the Fair Futures advocacy by connecting young adults transitioning out of foster care to health care

Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health system, the New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Center for Fair Futures and three foster agencies serving Queens – Forestdale, SCO Family of Services and MercyFirst – today launched a new pilot program that aims to improve health care services for young adults transitioning out of foster care. Through this first-of-its-kind, public-private partnership, the pilot program coordinates the Fair Futures life and skills coaching with Northwell’s patient navigation services to increase and streamline access to health services for those in foster care. This single point of entry process aims to aid transition-age young adults to gain access to care and start their independent health and wellness routine off on the right foot.

More specifically, the Youth Healthcare Link pilot program helps young adults between the ages of 20 and 26 who are preparing to transition or have transitioned from foster care adapt to their new independent lives with a foundation of good health. The program promotes new, potentially lifelong relationships with health care providers and this vulnerable population. Working with ACS and the Center for Fair Futures’ coaches, the program will enroll 50 to 100 transition-age adults, providing these individuals with health care navigators. Based on the results of the pilot, the groups will evaluate the potential to expand the program across the city.

Once enrolled, team members within the Northwell Health Solutions group – the health system’s care management organization, led by Executive DirectorZenobia Brown, MD, MPH – will direct these young adults to health screenings, including routine physicals, behavioral health, sexual health, drug/alcohol/tobacco/vape programs and connect them to appropriate clinical and care management services. The goal is to help these young adults embrace healthy lifestyle changes, including preventive health screenings, sleep, social connection, exercise and diet. Additionally, each participant will be assessed for social determinants of health needs and be connected to relevant services.

“Ensuring access to health services for transition-age young adults is imperative for their future wellbeing,” said Daniel Shacknai, vice president of emerging markets at Northwell’s Behavioral Health Service Line. “These individuals stand at the crossroads of adulthood, and we must provide them with the health care resources they need to navigate this crucial journey with confidence and resilience.”

Young people who have transitioned out of foster care and are working with the Center for Fair Futures helped design the new program. These young adults shared their insights with the pilot development team on the most critical needs and effective strategies to connect and implement a successful program within their communities.

“Every New Yorker should have access to what they need to stay healthy, especially young people transitioning out of foster care who oftentimes face additional barriers,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “I want to thank ACS, the Center for Fair Futures and Northwell Health for working together and responding to the feedback of young people to best streamline the process and ensure youth get connected to the high-quality health care they need.”

“One of our top priorities is making sure that young people in foster care have the resources they need to become healthy and successful adults and this new program provides one more way for us to do that,” said ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser. “Just as the Fair Futures program provides youth in care with dedicated coaches, Youth Healthcare Link will provide our older youth in foster care with one-on-one help in navigating the health system, providing much-needed stability in care during a transitory time in their life. Thank you to our partners at Northwell Health and the Center for Fair Futures as well as our foster care agencies, Forestdale, SCO and MercyFirst. Our best programs and practices are those designed with young people with first-hand experience and so, most importantly, thank you to the young people who helped develop this program for getting this important pilot off the ground.”

“The Center for Fair Futures takes a holistic approach to supporting New York City’s most vulnerable young people and ensuring access to quality health care is a key part of our model,” said Tracy Jenkins, co-executive director at The Center for Fair Futures. “Every young person can benefit from additional support navigating our health system to ensure they get the physical and mental health care they need. We are grateful to partner with ACS and Northwell on this pioneering program informed by the lived experiences of youth that will break barriers and provide the care and opportunities young people deserve.”

“Forestdale is pleased to be a part of this pilot,” stated Bill Weisberg, Forestdale Executive Director. “Youth Healthcare Link will benefit our amazing young people as they transition into adulthood by providing help in navigating often complex health systems. Northwell, leading this effort, has long been an outstanding partner with us, providing excellent specialty care for many of our clients. We are proud to collaborate with them, our sister agencies and our friends at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services and the Center for Fair Futures to make sure young people across Queens have every chance to achieve robust health and success.”

“MercyFirst is committed to the wellbeing of young adults transitioning out of foster care and Northwell Health’s Youth Healthcare Link pilot program is an excellent way to ensure they begin their journey into adulthood in good health,” said Renee Skolaski, MercyFirst President & CEO. “We are grateful to Northwell Health for helping young adults during an already challenging transition by providing access to quality care and helping them to navigate our complicated health care system, and we are honored to join ACS, the Center for Fair Futures and our peer agencies in bringing this important program to our youth across Queens.”

“Empowering transition-aged youth in care with essential health care resources and services lays the cornerstone for their journey toward becoming healthy and well-adjusted adults,” said Suzette Gordon, President & CEO of SCO Family of Services. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to ACS, the Center for Fair Futures and Northwell Health for spearheading this transformative pilot program, delivering groundbreaking services to support foster youth navigating formidable challenges. We look forward to working alongside them and our colleagues on this endeavor.”

About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 21 hospitals, about 900 outpatient facilities and more than 12,000 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 85,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,900 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, X, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About ACS
The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) protects and promotes safety and well-being of New York City’s children and families by providing child welfare, juvenile justice, and early care and education services. In child welfare, ACS contracts with private nonprofit organizations to support and stabilize families at risk of a crisis through preventive services and provides foster care services for children not able to safely remain at home. Each year, the agency’s Division of Child Protection conducts more than 45,000 investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect. In juvenile justice, ACS manages and funds services including detention and placement, intensive community-based alternatives for youth, and support services for families. In early care and education, ACS coordinates and funds programs and vouchers for approximately 57,000 children eligible for subsidized care. For more information, visit: www.nyc.gov/children.

About the Center for Fair Futures
Fair Futures is a youth-led advocacy movement and coalition of 100+ organizations and foundations advocating for all young people in New York City’s foster care system to have access to the long-term, comprehensive supports they need to achieve their potential. The Center for Fair Futures provides model implementation and support to over 500 Fair Futures staff across 36 provider organizations which in turn serve 4,000 system-impacted young people, helping them reach their goals and potential. Learn more at www.fairfuturesny.org


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