AHRC New York City is contracted through the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, to provide home and community-based services and supports to youth, (ages 3 to 21, with developmental disabilities) who are in foster care. The program, Bridges to Health (B2H), pairs AHRC NYC professionals with children in their homes and communities, working toward goals including:
– skills of daily living
– adaptive skills
– communication and socialization
– motor skills
– community safety
A great example of B2H success is Joey:
When he was only an infant, Joey was placed in a hospital setting as he was medically fragile; he ended up spending the first six years of his life within hospital walls. Joey was born with a genetic disorder called DiGeorge Syndrome. In Joey’s case, this disorder presented with a missing heart valve at birth, a poorly functioning immune system, low muscle tone, and other health issues; he was a very sick baby.
At the hospital, he had a special education teacher, Debbie, who developed a meaningful relationship with Joey. At the time, Debbie was told by professionals all the things he couldn’t do; walk, talk, or have his trachea removed. Debbie’s response was, “why not?” With no clear answer, Debbie advocated for him with his therapists to help him learn to walk, consulted with speech therapists to get his trachea removed, helped him learn to eat by mouth, and even bought him toys.
With Debbie’s love and connection, Joey began to blossom. In 2008, Joey was well enough to leave the hospital setting and Debbie decided to become his foster mother.
In May 2009, seven-years-old Joey entered the B2H Day Habilitation program at AHRC New York City. Joey’s diagnoses include Autism, Congenital Heart Disease, DiGeorge Syndrome, and asthma. He is also non-verbal due to severe Apraxia of speech, which is a motor speech disorder. Samantha Holloway was assigned to support him three days a week in his home. When Samantha met Joey, he was only able to communicate using a few basic signs. He seemed shy and did not make eye contact with people he didn’t know. Samantha quickly noted how intelligent Joey was and how much potential his future could hold. She worked with his family to establish goals such as communication, socialization, and self-care. Little did she know that she would remain supporting Joey and his family for almost six years.
In 2011, Joey was officially adopted by Debbie and he continues to blossom. Today, Joey is 13 and his progress is astounding. He loves going to Barnes and Noble, the movies, riding the subway, using the computer, and recording his favorite experiences. He enjoys expressing himself through his iPad especially to tell mom he loves her. Samantha and Joey spend their time doing yoga, socializing, bowling, going to museums, and exploring Joey’s sense of identity. He walks independently and now makes eye contact with people he engages with. We have every reason to believe that he will soon be independently making friends and holding conversations in his community.
Kids in our Bridges to Health Program have lives, journeys, and needs that are very unique. Most of our kids have faced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which makes building and maintaining healthy, meaningful relationships with adults a crucial part of their success. At B2H, we take the unique needs of our kids into consideration every step of the way. Our staff are not only providing day habilitation, but they are also letting each child know that they can rely on, trust, feel fulfilled, and get support from the people in their life.
Did this story resonate with you? We’re always looking for excellent staff throughout the five boroughs for our growing wait list of B2H kids. Contact us!