Haven Kids Rock

Haven Kids Rock, the acclaimed musical arts program at Haven Academy, just released a new music video. The video, which features the song ‘Scars,’ stars co-founder Nefertiti Jones and numerous Haven Kids Rock participants.

Watch the video and read more at Broadway World

Wine Campaign

Each year, The Foundling partners with City Winery to produce an exclusive wine that benefits our community. With a portion of proceeds going directly to support The Foundling, this is an easy way to support the children, adults, and families in our programs, while enjoying a limited-edition summer wine. This year’s offering, We Are Intertwined, is a fine Rosé of Syrah sourced from high-quality Californian terroir.

The wine is available online for purchase here, with free delivery in the New York City area. For $119, you will receive a case: 3 bottles of our custom Rosé and 3 bottles of sparkling Cava (6 total). A portion of your purchase will directly go to The Foundling’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

At The Foundling, we are committed to providing strength, stability, and hope to our neighbors – and right now, our programs are more important than ever. With your purchase of We are Intertwined, you can join us in providing support to the New York City community during these uncertain times.

Yandery

For over 150 years, The New York Foundling has worked in partnership with our neighbors to ensure that everyone can meet their full potential when facing challenging situations. This hasn’t changed, and our staff continue to provide life-changing and meaningful support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This series shares how The Foundling’s many programs are responding to the needs of their community.

Youth who are tried as adults for crimes committed while under the age of 19 face the very real threat of being sentenced to adult prison with adult convictions that impact their futures. The Foundling’s Families Rising program is one of a select few that targets this high-risk population and provides them with evidence-based Functional Family Therapy (FFT) as an alternative to incarceration.

Families Rising works to reduce family conflict, substance abuse, recidivism, and violent behavior in the long term. In addition to its historically high rates of treatment completion, the program has demonstrated a significant impact helping participants with viable alternatives that avoid incarceration and a criminal record, leading them to stay in school and avoid re-arrest. The program is also estimated to save taxpayers millions of dollars each year in incarceration costs.

Throughout COVID-19, our dedicated Families Rising team has continued to provide FFT treatment and support to youth and their families.


Before youth can be screened into programs like Families Rising, which is a rehabilitative alternative to incarceration, they have to wait for a court referral. With criminal courts closed due to COVID-19, referrals of youth to The Foundling’s Families Rising program have decreased dramatically. Virtual court hearings are at a minimum, reserved only for the highest-risk cases.

But for the many young people who are already enrolled in Families Rising, therapy sessions have continued during COVID-19 but in a telehealth format. “We’ve had more instances of rescheduling,” says Kimberly Sweeney, a Families Rising Supervisor. “Because of COVID-19, we cannot rely on popping up at someone’s home for a session, so we are now addressing potential attendance struggles as a clinical matter in therapy sessions.”

Negative peer influences, fights with family, and impulsive decision-making are the most common trouble factors for youth. “Kids do what other kids are doing,” says Kimberly, “Since other kids are staying home due to COVID-19, the kids we help are, too. So that works to our advantage.”

Family involvement is an incredibly important factor in the program’s success. “One of my kids wasn’t going to school,” Kimberly explains, “But then his older brother came home from college early because of COVID-19. Our client started logging into the remote learning platform and began sending screenshots of the work he was doing to both myself and his school counselor. His brother was such a good influence. He reinforced all the skills and good behaviors we were trying to teach.”

And moments like this one couldn’t happen if youth are tried as adults and put in adult prisons. “Flooding the criminal justice system isn’t going to help kids make better choices, go to school, or improve their family and community relations,” Gomattie states, “It’s not going to fix recidivism.”

“If the risk of punishment at Rikers was enough to encourage people to behave differently, then it would have worked already,” adds Kimberly, “Families need more support addressing maladaptive behaviors, so their kids don’t end up in Rikers.”

“We need more programs like Families Rising—programs that actually address the issues that got the kid arrested in the first place,” Gomattie continues, “If we don’t treat the root causes, how are we going to produce any real lasting results?”


To learn more about how The New York Foundling is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, visit our emergency response page. Stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines as we continue to support our neighbors on paths to stability and strength.

Read past posts in the ‘Our Work Continues’ blog series:

Dorm Project

For over 150 years, The New York Foundling has worked in partnership with our neighbors to ensure that everyone can meet their full potential when facing challenging situations. This hasn’t changed, and our staff continue to provide life-changing and meaningful support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This series shares how The Foundling’s many programs are responding to the needs of their community.

Four years ago, a partnership was created by The New York Foundling which brought together New York City’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) and the City University of New York (CUNY) with the goal to help more young people in foster care attend college and earn a college degree. This partnership is more commonly known as The Dormitory Project. The program provides a wide range of supports – academic, social, financial, and professional – to ensure students graduate from college. Students are supported by College Success Coaches, who live alongside them on CUNY campuses across New York City and are deeply attuned and trained to respond to the challenges and stressors that young people in foster care face. The Dormitory Project also includes academic support led by a team of tutors who ensure that each student is prepared to do well in their classes, develop effective study habits, choose a major, and identify a long-term academic plan.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, The Foundling’s dedicated staff have worked tirelessly to help students adjust to remote learning and support those who are facing further hurdles and obstacles so they have an equal shot at educational success.


Before COVID-19, the achievement gap between students in foster care and their peers was already significant. Now, says Joni Rivera, who oversees The Foundling’s Dormitory Project, “students and staff face challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.” Staff spent the first month of the outbreak trying to get students access to technology, adjust to a remote learning format, and stay on track with their courses. But it’s been tough.

“Not only are they switching over to remote learning, they also had to worry about finding a place to live mid-semester and move,” says Joni, “It had an impact on their learning.”

In March, when CUNY campuses shut down, The Foundling’s staff helped its Dormitory Project students find new places to live for the short term—this ranged from family and friends, to foster families, and if that wasn’t possible, limited housing at Queens College remained available.

“CUNY has been incredibly supportive through the pandemic,” says Elizabeth Tremblay, who currently acts as the director of The Dormitory Project, and is an Associate Vice president for The Foundling’s School Based Mental Health Services. “When we couldn’t find alternative summer housing for about 40 students, CUNY graciously agreed to keep one of their dormitories open and house them there. CUNY is also letting our students store some of their belongings in secure places on campus, especially since many have moved into housing arrangements where there isn’t a lot of extra space.”

All tutoring sessions and meetings with College Success Coaches are now done online. Students connect with them on a weekly basis for career counseling, educational advocacy training, and help navigating personal and peer conflicts. Students are also hearing from their tutors on a daily basis, which is an increase from the weekly sessions that took place before COVID-19. Typical tutoring sessions last one to two hours, depending on the students’ needs.

However, the transition from in-person meetings and learning to remote formats was harder for some students than others. “Some students were stressed and frustrated,” says Joni, “It was just difficult in the beginning.”

However, tutors were able to reel in struggling students and get them back on track. “Overall, we saw an increase in student engagement and participation,” Joni continues, “and real progress with students advocating for themselves. That is, students talking to their professors about problems they were having, asking for extensions, and make-up work.”

As a result, the program reported a lot of A’s and B’s on student final exams and – in very exciting news – thirteen students graduated this spring: ten with associates degrees, and three with a four-year degree. These results “really shine a light on how important it is for older youth in foster care to have someone in their lives who will advocate for their education,” Joni says.

CUNY is now offering credit/no credit courses, and program staff are helping students decide which to choose, as well as register for summer and fall classes. Online learning will continue through the summer and possibly also the fall.

“The work we do has a profound effect, especially during these difficult times,” Joni adds, “A huge push from our staff brought students who fell off the map back around. If it weren’t for them, these struggling students might have dropped out. So, we’re really giving these kids a fighting chance.”

“But our students are resilient, too,” Elizabeth says, “COVID-19 has highlighted that with support and the right people around them, older youth in foster care can acclimate to change and achieve successful outcomes in education no matter what their circumstances.”


To learn more about how The New York Foundling is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, visit our emergency response page. Stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines as we continue to support our neighbors on paths to stability and strength.

Read past posts in the ‘Our Work Continues’ blog series:

When single moms faced a pandemic crisis that might send their children to state care, Christian families stepped up to help by hosting children in their homes. New York, however, only allows hosting via licensed foster care agencies.

The New York Foundling’s CEO, Bill Baccaglini, said the group still has available foster homes even in the pandemic, and none of the organization’s foster parents requested children’s removal because of COVID-19.

“We haven’t seen this few kids in foster care in New York City since the early ’70s,” said Baccaglini. But he added: “We’re very nervous about, at the other end of this, what happens to abuse and neglect reports. … What does the system look like a few months after the pandemic?”

Read more at World Magazine.

Haven Kids Rock

Haven Kids Rock, a musical arts program at Haven Academy, our K-8 charter school, typically performs their annual musical, Unstoppable, in the spring. While their event was canceled this year, the students didn’t let social distancing stop them from expressing their feelings and experiences through song and dance.

The program created Unstoppable, Virtual Tales From The Schoolyard, a digital production featuring new music video clips and highlights from the past year. The event streamed live on YouTube earlier this month – watch it above.

Unstoppable, which is based on the real-life stories of Haven Academy students, covers topics such as bouncing between foster care homes, looming deportation, living in homeless shelters, and gun violence. The resilient stars of Unstoppable wear their scars as badges of honor and strength through song and performance.

Healthy Families Staten Island

For over 150 years, The New York Foundling has worked in partnership with our neighbors to ensure that everyone can meet their full potential when facing challenging situations. This hasn’t changed, and our staff continue to provide life-changing and meaningful support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This series shares how The Foundling’s many programs are responding to the needs of their community.

The Staten Island Community Partnership Program, an initiative of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) operated by The Foundling, works hand-in-hand with residents, community groups, service providers, and local government to encourage and develop new approaches to solving issues facing children, including child abuse and neglect. The partnership aims to weave a safety net for families with family-centered and community-based services that provide impactful and educational opportunities. Together with those closest to the challenges at hand, the partnership engages community members to understand their strengths and needs and create sustainable solutions that produce positive change.

Similarly, Healthy Families Staten Island is a free, home visiting program designed to help new and expectant parents meet the challenges of parenting and ensure the healthy development of their children. The program is designed to help prevent child abuse and neglect by promoting positive parenting skills and parent-child interaction. Participants are also connected to community resources that help to strengthen their families.

Throughout COVID-19, our dedicated staff have continued to provide meaningful engagement and support to residents of Staten Island.


The Foundling has been serving the community of Staten Island for decades. The Foundling’s Staten Island Community Partnership Program (SICPP) and Healthy Families Staten Island program (HFSI) are two programs that work closely together to support the North Shore Staten Island community. Together they aim to reduce the number of children and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems through preventative measures and support. “We reach about 179,000 people, which is about thirty-five percent of the Staten Island population,” explains Christopher Dowling, Director of SICPP.

“We’re basically the glue that bands together a network of community-based organizations, and the core of what we do is finding and solving local issues.” Christopher noted, “We have ambassadors who are our eyes, ears, and feet within the community, who are trained to identify potential trouble spots. Some we’ve identified in the past include things like teen vaping, gang action, and understanding sexual consent. We’ll then either design interventions to address those issues or refer individuals to existing programs or The New York Foundling for help.”

Due to social distancing and stay at home orders, it has been more challenging than ever to monitor people’s well-being. “Most of what we know is through word of mouth,” says Valarie Taveras, The Foundling’s Assistant Vice President overseeing both SICPP and HFSI.

“With everything shutdown, one of the issues we’ve seen in teenagers is they are getting bored,” Christopher said. “All the usual summer activities, extracurriculars, and job opportunities that were available to them before aren’t around now to keep them busy and out of trouble. So, we’ve had to get creative about virtualizing our events to keep community members in touch and engaged.”

For example, SICPP now partners with other organizations to host game-oriented virtual academies where teens can meet and interact through supplemental educational activities online. By the end of June, SICPP will be distributing 200 board games to families to help pass time during the summer months.

“We have an annual Fatherhood Fun Day event coming up that’s been completely virtualized,” Christopher says, noting the event will include a DJ and other entertainment for dads to participate in virtually with their families. Various organizations will be present to explain their work and services.

Throughout May and June, SICPP has also been supporting the North Shore with a grocery distribution program. Every week, the Partnership orders a large delivery of meat, fruits, vegetables, and other essential foods to organize and distribute. “So far we have given out 50 bags out each time, and expect to distribute even more in the weeks to come,” Christopher says.

“I’d like to give a special shout out to Khristian Taveras, another Foundling employee,” Valerie added, “He has consistently received the dry and frozen goods since the initiative’s inception. Without his help, the effort would have been delayed.”

Similarly, SICPP’s Laundry Initiative, “Washing away COVID,” has generated nearly 500 emails and registrations of interest. In partnership with Clean Rite Laundry Centers, 375 laundry cards worth $40 each will be distributed amongst the community. SICP is also piloting a program with ACS and Lyft that will supply $30 in rideshare credits for transportation and MetroCards, and taking on an “assistance grant” initiative to provide direct relief.

While SICPP works with all age groups, HFSI specifically helps soon-to-be and new mothers prepare for motherhood. Through intensive home visits, now conducted virtually, HFSI provides mothers with the coaching, tools, and skills they will need as a parent. The program starts prenatal, or at the latest when the child is three months old, and ends when the child is 4-5 years old.

“Many of the mothers we see are transient or here alone in the country,” Valarie explains, “They don’t necessarily have access to family support, information, and resources about having and raising a child. Motherhood is scary and nerve-wracking as it is, and then you add those factors. So, we are here to help them.”

“I was nervous at first about the transition to virtual home visits, but it was seamless,” Valerie continues, “We’ve had to adapt some of our events to fit a virtual format, but overall, not being in an office has been the only real difference.”

Such virtualized events include regular playgroups and HFSI’s annual baby shower. For the latter, packets full of traditional baby shower games and gifts were distributed to the mothers ahead of the event. Since the annual baby shower typically serves attendees food, HFSI also provided Target gift cards so they wouldn’t miss out on the perk.

“Even though all our events are virtual now, the Staten Island community is still excited to participate and stay connected.”


To learn more about how The New York Foundling is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, visit our emergency response page. Stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines as we continue to support our neighbors on paths to stability and strength.

NYF Huggie Rectangle

Statement from The Foundling

Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO

We are in the middle of a storm—in New York City and across the nation. It is unfathomable to think that so many members of our communities: colleagues, friends, and loved ones – our “gorgeous mosaic” of many races and nationalities – are living in fear.

I cannot say that I know what it’s like to be a person of color, but I know enough to recognize deep, systemic problems when I see them. We all know they exist – that’s why many of us have chosen to work at The Foundling – to try to bridge some of those gaps and heal some of that suffering.

Our opportunity structure is broken and it has been for generations. Black and brown children go to schools, play in parks, and live in neighborhoods with fewer resources and services than those typically utilized by white children. And they are going to grow up with less access to quality healthcare – something made apparent by the disparate impact of COVID-19. Our clients and our staff, the overwhelming majority of whom are non-white, live this reality every day and we see the effects of these structural inequities.

And now, over and over, we have seen the difference in how black and brown people experience the criminal justice system. Each time, we all vow “never again.” How many times can we say “never again?”

This is not a New York City problem, it’s not an Atlanta problem, and it’s not a Minneapolis problem. It’s not a few isolated and unrelated incidents – this is a profound, systemic, American problem. We cannot allow ourselves, as the deniers would like, to analyze each incident – each killing of a person of color – as a separate event. We cannot continue to allow our political leaders to settle for marginal remedies that fail to address the larger condition.

The Foundling has represented, supported, and served people facing hardship in New York for over 150 years – people of all colors, religions, backgrounds, and beliefs. We represent those who feel voiceless and vulnerable, whose opportunities are limited.  Every member of our team is committed to serving people in need, to working in our communities, to saving lives. We are all in pain.

We cannot allow this issue to devolve into discussions about looters – a small number of people whose mission is to hijack a peaceful movement to create chaos for their own personal gain. These individuals give credibility to the deniers, who use the looting as a justification for their dismissal of the tragedy that is taking place and the larger issues at hand.

The stakes are higher than ever and we need our elected leaders to rise to the challenge. We need reforms that are equal to this moment. At The Foundling, we have focused on education for the past 15 years, not because we began with any expertise in the field, but to find ways of rebalancing the opportunity structure for black and brown children in our City. Our hope was that if we could intervene in the educational experience for one generation, we could reset the opportunity structure in an enduring way.  But we are one organization, with limited scope and resources. Much more is needed in the fight against racism and racial injustice.  Government must step up.

Leaders in every city in America must resolve to change. They must understand the urgency of this situation and rise to the challenge. There can be no greater priority than to recognize the very real pain that exists, to work to restore faith in our institutions, and to remove the need for our citizens to feel fear. Simply put, systemic racism must be acknowledged and addressed. Let this be the last time we have to say “never again.”

Liv Lauser

For over 150 years, The New York Foundling has worked in partnership with our neighbors to ensure that everyone can meet their full potential when facing challenging situations. This hasn’t changed, and our staff continue to provide life-changing and meaningful support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This series shares how The Foundling’s many programs are responding to the needs of their community.

While some adults with developmental disabilities are able to live independently, or in the care of a close family member, others require more intensive round-the-clock services tailored to their level of need. For these people, many of whom have complex medical needs, The Foundling provides supportive and nurturing housing that is fully integrated into the surrounding community. The Foundling provides residential services for people with developmental disabilities in all five boroughs of New York City and in Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties.

We help the people in our residential programs engage with their community, gain more autonomy, and participate in gainful activities – from day programs to volunteer work and paying jobs.


As we featured last week, the incredible residential services staff of our Developmental Disabilities Division have selflessly worked the frontlines since the pandemic began, adapting to every challenge they have been faced with, while also providing round-the-clock support to the people in our care.

Across all of our residences, we’ve heard countless stories of staff working tirelessly – and often beyond their usual schedule – to fill the needs in our programs. Direct Support Provider Sandra Thompson, for example, did not hesitate to cover an overnight shift the day a client in the residence where she works received confirmation of COVID-19 infection.  “She had just become an American citizen and felt it was her civic duty to go in and help wherever needed,” Assistant Vice President Mary Pell Bidwell, supervisor for Sandra’s residence, shared.

Similarly, Brian Montilla was asked to temporarily relocate his work to a residence that was hit hard by COVID-19. As one might imagine, this was a difficult request to make, as Brian would be going from a familiar workplace where no clients were COVID positive to a home that had multiple cases of sick residents and staff. In addition to an unfamiliar location, he did not know any of the residents or staff, and had to quickly adapt in a crisis situation with new and different stressors.

“Brian is a team player,” Assistant Vice President Renee Pili shared, “and, as usual, he politely accepted the directive and provided support at the other location for over a month as the situation there stabilized. Through all of this, Brian performed his duties calmly, professionally, and with a smile.”

In the same vein, Felecia Sloan immediately adjusted her schedule to fill shifts after our day habilitation programs closed. Felecia went above and beyond to arrange a socially distant celebration for a resident who was hospitalized on his birthday. Thanks to Felecia’s initiative, via a video call, the staff and residents sang happy birthday and watched the candles be blown out.

“Our staff have really gone above and beyond to uplift the spirits of our residents,” Mary Pell continued, “Von Hemert, one of our residence managers, connected with the community to receive deli food donations for residences. She personally picked up the donations and delivered them to residents!”

Staff members Diaka Doumbouya and Reginald Mason have displayed the same degree of creativity and thoughtfulness. “Diaka brings her skills as a beautician to the residence and pampers the ladies who are accustomed to going to the hair salon,” Assistant Vice President Thelma Adams Moore said, “And Reginald has served residents roast duck with stuffing and all the fixings. He also does smoothie bars and engages them in the kitchen with meal preparation.”

Liv Lauser

Residence Manager Liv Lauser received PPE donations from the city government to protect residents.

Despite the incredible pressure they’ve endured, these staff members – and many others – have displayed incredible compassion and creativity. Thank you to the valiant staff of our residential services for their selfless service.


To learn more about how The New York Foundling is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, visit our emergency response page. Stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines as we continue to support our neighbors on paths to stability and strength.

Denise

Due to COVID-19, organizations have had to change the way their group homes are run and also help the residents cope with the new reality of the pandemic.

Denise Flores, the assistant vice president for the developmental disabilities’ division at The New York Foundling, said that during the beginning of the pandemic they had to ration out the protective equipment they had. They would only give masks, gloves and gowns to residences with sick individuals.

“I mean we don’t have any to waste, but we do have a system in place that everyone has now either face shields, gowns or masks,” said Flores.

Read more at Our Town NY.