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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Tyree Learning Center

The Tyree Learning Center is a New York State certified special education school that was created to accommodate the needs of the children and adolescents with developmental disabilities who reside at The Robert J. McMahon Children’s Center in Nassau County, Long Island. Small class sizes and student-centered instruction tailor each student’s education to his/her individual needs and abilities.

Who Can Benefit from this Program

Children and adolescents with developmental disabilities who reside at The Robert J. McMahon Children’s Center in Nassau County, Long Island.

Age Criteria or Other Eligibility Requirements

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

How to Access this Program or Service

Referrals accepted via Administration for Children’s Serivces (ACS) or county LDSS foster care services, or through Committee on Special Education

Success Stories

East Brooklyn Community High School Students Reflect on Graduation Day

"They're your backbone, they help you and support you no matter what you do in life." 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

Last year, we helped

418

adults become employed heads of households

Last year,

97%

of children in our early education centers met or exceeded national mathematics performance standards