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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Madonna Heights Residential Treatment Facility

The Madonna Heights Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) is a trauma-informed therapeutic program that provides the most intensive residential mental health services available outside of a hospital setting. The RTF Program helps youth strengthen connections with family, while improving outcomes through a youth-guided, family-driven and trauma-sensitive approach to treatment. The 24-hour facility offers a wide range of therapeutic services as well as comprehensive mental health, medical, recreational and independent living supports. Intensive treatment plans direct the individualized treatment of each youth. The RTF’s trauma-responsive treatment environment promotes safety, sensitivity and healing where clients can feel secure enough to address unresolved trauma while learning to maintain emotional regulation and employ self-care strategies.

The youth in residence attend the Madonna Heights School, a fully accredited New York State Regents junior/senior high school located on the same campus as the RTF that provides a therapeutic educational environment for adolescent girls who are struggling in their home, school or community.

Who Can Benefit from this Program

Adolescent girls with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) with trauma histories ages 13-17.11 upon intake with DSM-V diagnosis that requires residential psychiatric care and treatment under the direction of a psychiatrist

Age Criteria or Other Eligibility Requirements

12-17.11 years of age, FSIQ > 70, OMH Pre-Admission Certification Committee (PACC) certified, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) diagnosis; Special Education Classification

How to Access this Program or Service

Referrals are accepted from Children’s SPOA Committee (Nassau/Suffolk/ NYC); NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) Long Island/ NYC Field Office or NYS OMH PACC Committee

 

This program is associated with...

Madonna Heights

Providing an environment that teaches, strengthens and encourages young and adult women to heal from trauma. Read More

Success Stories

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

87%

of young adults in foster care (18+) are enrolled in school or working

We inspire

9,900

children and teens through academic, after-school, summer and work readiness programs

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