In Generosity’s recent article on employment for people with disabilities in Philadelphia, reporter Jaya Montague looks at New York City’s workforce development efforts as a potential model. The article contains insights from The Foundling’s Mia Guidel-Joshi, who shares how “the climate of workforce development for people with disabilities in New York City is very collaborative.”
In a recent blog post, Youth Villages (which created the LifeSet program model) shares the story of Crystal – a young mother who has participated in our Mother/Child and LifeSet programs. With the support of Foundling staff, she has learned parenting skills to better support her children, moved into her own apartment, enrolled in college, and is now building toward a bright future.
As Hadiyyah Thomas, her LifeSet specialist, shares, “She is a young person who transformed in The Foundling’s programs; she matured.”
At The Foundling, we pride ourselves on our innovative approach to service delivery using the latest technology trends. In a new article from CIO Dive on IT innovation at The Foundling, Arik Hill, our Chief Information Officer, shares insights about our work with technology. “You need an established culture that values innovation,” he says. “Tying every technical effort back to the organization’s mission enables digital transformation.”
MedPage Today’s new op-ed focuses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on two high-risk populations served by The Foundling – people with developmental disabilities and those in foster care. Written by two members of The Foundling’s leadership team – Dr. Joe Saccoccio, our Chief Medical Officer, and Sashoi Grant, our Vice President of Nursing – the article details the lessons learned in providing medical care to these communities, from the importance of educating on safety measures to maintaining a focus on mental health.
Read the op-ed below:
Op-Ed: Forgotten Populations and COVID — Learning the right lessons
At The New York Foundling — one of New York’s longest-serving non-profit organizations — we know all too well how COVID has upended countless lives across the city. The communities and populations we support, totaling 30,000 each year, have been hit particularly hard — from people with developmental disabilities to children and families in crisis.
We now know that COVID-19 is three times more likely to have fatal outcomes among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities than the general population. And the data tells us that most children in foster care have higher instances of medical and mental health diagnoses than children who are not in foster care — from asthma, to obesity, to long-term illnesses like diabetes — all putting them at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus without intervention. The communities in our care at The Foundling have faced immense challenges this year and are some of the most at-risk heading into the next few months.
While we may be entering a second wave and a dark winter, we do know what could be in store. We’ve been intentional about revisiting the most challenging moments of the first wave in New York, and reflecting on lessons learned. Medical care is a critical part of the history and legacy of The New York Foundling. And today, we continue to support hundreds of thousands of our neighbors — and during COVID, our work has not changed.
New York has learned some of the toughest lessons from the pandemic and stands to be more prepared as we head into a difficult holiday season. Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself addressed the current surge, saying, “We lived this nightmare. We learned from this nightmare. And we’re going to correct for the lessons we learned.”
With more than 37,000 COVID-related deaths in New York and over 200,000 new cases a day across the country, what have we learned, and how can we correct it?
Lesson #1: Continue to educate on and adapt to new safety measures. As the state proceeds with its plan to emphasize mask-wearing, enforce social distancing, and prevent overflow at hospitals, we must do our part to educate and support people with developmental disabilities, children in foster care, and children and families receiving preventative services.
And it’s not just why, but how we educate people that is so important heading into the winter. It’s important to find the right way to explain and demonstrate how severe the virus is, why social distancing is important. And with many people, especially those with developmental disabilities, unable to tolerate mask-wearing and other standard precautions, we must get creative to find new ways to keep ourselves and our clients safe. Staff at The Foundling have worked tirelessly throughout the year to find alternative safety measures for those who struggle to comply with the status quo, and will continue to do so.
Lesson #2: We need to prioritize mental health and emotional wellbeing, alongside physical health. In 2020, we learned that many of the people living in Foundling-run homes and residences for people with developmental disabilities faced difficulties understanding isolation. In instances of a positive case of COVID in a group home, there were times when the individual didn’t understand what was going on with their body, were unable to advocate for themselves, and when isolated, didn’t fully recognize why they couldn’t see their friends or loved ones. Supporting these individuals takes a tremendous investment from our staff in not just the physical, but also the emotional and mental wellbeing of our residents – in these difficult times, safety goes beyond physical health.
Lesson #3: We learned a valuable lesson on staying connected. Take, for example, families and children in the child welfare system, who we know are at a higher risk for contracting the coronavirus without intervention.
Compounding to these factors are the strict “shelter in place” orders — which not only affect the children who have been placed into safe, stable, supportive, and loving homes, but also have a devastating effect on children receiving preventive services, and children who live in under-resourced communities and neighborhoods across New York City.
Children in foster care and in preventive services already have heightened rates of anxiety and depression, and the winter cold, combined with a lack of one on one connection, only serves to intensify those issues moving forward – both from a public health and mental health perspective.
This winter will look very different from years past. Yet while we reflect on how much things have changed this winter, this is also a time to examine what we’ve learned. Let’s work together to find new ways to support each other so that we can all stay safe and healthy into the New Year.
Joe Saccoccio, MD, MPH, FAAP, is senior vice president for medical services, and Sashoi Grant is vice president for nursing, developmental disabilities, at The New York Foundling.
In a segment airing on local television channel BronxNet, OPEN Host Daren Jaime speaks with our CEO and President, Bill Baccaglini, to discuss how The Foundling has provided education, child welfare, and healthcare services to children and families in The Bronx throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the full video below or learn more on BronxNet:
Food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an issue for 1 in 10 Americans – and women of color are disproportionately impacted. A recent article from Essence reports on non-profit organizations and programs that are working to close this gap, including our Staten Island Community Partnership. “Amid Covid, [The Foundling’s] been providing food pantry meals to dozens of families,” reporter Donna M. Owens writes.
THE NEW YORK FOUNDLING ANNOUNCES TWO NEW ADDITIONS TO LEADERSHIP TEAM
New York, NY (December 15, 2020) – The New York Foundling is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its leadership team: Dr. Ruth Gerson will be the new Senior Vice President for Mental Health Services and Shannon Ghramm-Smith will serve as Senior Vice President of the Child Welfare and Behavioral Health Division.
Dr. Gerson joined The New York Foundling in February, 2020. As Senior Vice President for Mental Health Services, she will oversee the psychiatric and mental health services for children and teenagers in foster care and for youth and families receiving services in The Foundling’s Home for Integrated Behavioral Health in East Harlem. Dr. Gerson also teaches at the NYU School of Medicine, where she is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is nationally recognized as an expert in child psychiatric emergencies and in trauma-informed crisis services for youth, and is the co-editor of two books, Beyond PTSD: Helping and Healing Teens Exposed to Trauma, and Helping Kids in Crisis: Managing Psychiatric Emergencies in Children and Adolescents.
As Senior Vice President of our Child Welfare and Behavioral Health Division, Shannon will lead five major programmatic areas at The Foundling: Foster Care Services, Family Preventive Programs, Juvenile & Criminal Justice Programs, Education and School Based Programs, and Behavioral Health Programs. Shannon has strong roots in implementation science, evidence-based interventions, and streamlining programs to drive successful collaboration and strong client services. Prior to this role, Shannon served as Vice President of Behavioral Health Programs and Care Management at The Foundling, and lead all behavioral health programming as well as The New York Foundling’s care management program, which serves hundreds of clients across New York City each year.
“We are thrilled to welcome Shannon Ghramm-Smith and Dr. Ruth Gerson to their respective new roles. Shannon has been with The Founding for close to 10 years and will join our leadership team with the insight that comes from being a therapist, supervisor, and having held other important positions across our organization for nearly a decade. Dr. Gerson, who joined our team more recently, will continue to contribute her knowledge and expertise gleaned from over 10 years of clinical experience in pediatric psychiatry. Both of these incredible leaders will continue to be valuable in ensuring The Foundling understands how we can best support our clients and our entire workforce during these challenging times,” said Bill Baccaglini, President and CEO of The New York Foundling.
The New York Foundling is built on a 150-year-old promise to New York’s many communities, that all children, adults, and families can have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Foundling is proud to continue the critical work of removing obstacles to wellbeing for people across New York through evidence-based approaches to health and mental health.
About The New York Foundling
At The New York Foundling, we trust in the potential of people, and we deliberately invest in proven practices. From bold beginnings in 1869, our New York based nonprofit has supported a quarter million of our neighbors on their own paths to stability, strength, and independence. The New York Foundling’s internationally recognized set of social services are both proven and practical. We help children and families navigate through and beyond foster care. We help families struggling with conflict and poverty to grow stronger. We help individuals with developmental disabilities live their best lives. And we help children and families access quality health and mental health services core to building lifelong resilience and wellbeing.
For more information about The New York Foundling, please visit www.nyfoundling.org.
Medpage Today recently spoke with The Foundling on a report detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic has stifled family visitation in the foster care system, stalling the reunification process.
“Each day that birth parents spend away from their children takes a toll on their well being, said Liyan Bao, vice president of Placement Permanency Support at New York Foundling. We have had some families who have just been completely discouraged by all of this, not being able to have their kids go home to them, and they were on the right track,” Bao told MedPage Today.
The 74 Million, in their ongoing series of interviews with education innovators, recently spoke with Jessica Nauiokas of Haven Academy.
“At the core of our success, I truly believe our commitment to creating and maintaining a safe, predictable learning environment that holds kids to high expectations has helped anchor our work. That is coupled with our deep belief that understanding empathy, teaching empathy and showing kids how to practice empathy toward others has helped them not only make sense of their own challenges and struggles, but build relationships with important peers and teachers through the building,” Jessica says.
This holiday season, Bronx public charter schools have launched a holiday campaign to thank teachers for their dedication during this challenging school year.
Jessica Nauiokas, Founder and Head of School at Haven Academy, participated in the campaign, saying “regardless of the situation, they have made it clear that they are committed to students’ excellence and education. They’ve proven that their impact on students’ lives goes beyond the traditional classroom. They are our children’s cheerleaders, role models and support systems. We’re so proud of all that they’ve done during such a difficult time.”