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.

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Robert J. McMahon Children’s Center

The Robert J. McMahon Children’s Center (RJMCC) in Nassau County, Long Island serves children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. RJMCC includes a Residential Treatment Center, which provides 24-hour nursing care, social services and a variety of therapies that help them unlock their potential and achieve as much independence as their abilities allow. Residents of RJMCC attend the Tyree Learning Center, a New York State certified special education school designed to accommodate the children’s needs.

Who Can Benefit from this Program

Children and adolescents in foster care, or referred by the Committee on Special Education (CSE), with significant developmental disabilities who need 24/7 care.

Age Criteria or Other Eligibility Requirements

Age 5-21, IQ < 50; must have been placed at the RJMCC through social services or through CSE

How to Access this Program or Service

Through Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), county LDSS foster care services, or through Committee on Special Education

Related News

Success Stories

Faiz

RJMCC & Tyree Learning Center

“His progress has been exponential. In barely a year, he’s surpassed everyone’s expectations. It’s been transformative.” Learn More

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

100%

of eligible residents at our Madonna Heights Residential Treatment Facility participated in work, internship, or volunteer activities

94%

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

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