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.

Arjun’s Story

When Arjun joined SCO’s Individual Residential Alternatives program in 2014, his developmental disabilities and behavioral challenges greatly impacted his ability to function. They were so severe that he could not be in crowds, public spaces, and was unable to socialize. There were times when Arjun would refuse to eat meals with his housemates.

With the help and dedication of SCO’s staff, a plan was developed to help Arjun address these challenges and work towards achieving his goals. Last summer, Arjun attended the YMCA Camp Huguenot with his peers where he had a blast doing a variety of activities such as archery, rock climbing and canoeing. The fun did not stop there! After the camping trip, Arjun took a major step forward and drove to Battery Park with his sister and aunt. He entered the car with no hesitation and walked the High Line, went for pizza and drove around Manhattan with his family where he showed almost zero signs of anxiety.

Today, Arjun attends SCO’s community habilitation, partakes in various activities such as volunteering at canned food drives, delivering food to elderly adults, going to the bowling alley, and going to the local church’s gym to play basketball and soccer. Arjun spends quality time with his peers and he is now able to enjoy going out and be among his friends and family. He is also taking road-trips with his parents to Virginia and going on camping trips with his housemates without having anxiety.

Arjun’s breakthrough is the definition of a success story! He continues to thrive, and we are sure that Arjun will continue to work towards more independence and integration into his community.

 

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LGBTQ Residential Program

We offer the only residential program in New York City for young people in care who identify as LGBTQ. Our programs provide 24-hour care in a uniquely affirming and healing environment where all youth are welcome and encour­aged to live authentically in all aspects of their lives.

We operate small home-like settings in Brooklyn and Queens that provide a safe, supportive and nurturing space for these youth as they strive for self-awareness and community, family and school acceptance. Every young person is treated with dignity and respect, and our staff is focused on meeting the unique needs of our youth.

We serve youth 15-21 who are currently in foster care and who come from all five boroughs of New York City, as well as other New York counties.

Success Stories

Jasmine’s Story

From Foster Care to Advocate

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. Learn More

Arjun’s Story

Overcoming Challenges to Achieve Personal Growth

With the help and dedication of SCO’s staff, a plan was developed to help Arjun address his challenges and work towards achieving his goals. Learn More

We help

1,500

children get ready for kindergarten

100%

of eligible students at Westbrook Preparatory School passed the Regents exam on the first try

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