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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Theresa Paplin School

The Theresa Paplin School is a non-diploma bound, New York State certified special education school that serves adolescents and young adults who are dually diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance as well as a developmental disability. Students live at our Ottilie Residential Treatment Facility or attend as day students referred by New York City Department of Education school districts. The school teaches functional, academic and vocational skills based on each individual’s abilities.

The Theresa Paplin Summer Youth Employment Program provides entry level jobs in a variety of local businesses for student s in our Theresa Paplin School on the Ottilie campus. Participants experience real-world labor expectations, career instruction, financial literacy training, and social growth.

Who Can Benefit from this Program?

Students who are dual diagnosed (SED/IDD)

Age Criteria

10 – 21 years of age

How to Access this Program or Service

Through the Pre-Admission Certification Committee (PACC) as a residential student or via the Central Based Support Team for Day Students

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

Cathy Armstrong

"I love working with the children and helping make their holidays and graduations special." Learn More

We provide

14,000

families and individuals with support services and community activities

88%

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

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