Quick Links & Contacts

ACS

Office of Advocacy
212-676-9421

PYA Goals

EDUCATION

Alternative Schools
GED Programs
Scholarships & ETVs

New York City has a new web portal for teens. Click on www.nyc.gov/teen to find information, resources, and help.

HOUSING

Finding an Apartment
Emergency Services

JOBS

Summer Jobs

SEXUALITY

Morning After Pill info
1-888-NOT-2-LATE

HEALTH

Citywide Clinic List

New York City has a new web portal for teens. Click on www.nyc.gov/teen to find information, resources, and help.

MENTAL HEALTH

Suicide Hotline
212-673-3000

LifeNet Referrals
(24 hours)
1-800-543-3638 (English)
1-877-298-3373 (Spanish)
1-877-990-8585 (Mandarin/Cantonese)

Visit www.nyc.gov/teen and click on "Dating and Friends" and "Feeling Stressed" to learn more.

SPECIAL RESOURCES
Youth In Progress

Hotlines (dating violence, housing, mental health)

ADVOCACY

Legal
Lawyers for Children
1-800-244-2540

Legal Aid (call the office in the borough where you lived when you first went into foster care)
Bronx: 718-579-7900
Brooklyn: 718-237-7100
Manhattan: 212-312-2260
Queens: 718-298-8900
Staten Isl.: 718-981-0219

Education/Special Ed
Advocates for Children
212-947-9779

Legal Aid Society’s Education Advocacy Project
212-577-3342

ETVs (Educational and Training Vouchers)

Featured Story

Learn to Advocate
image by Chris Pope
Learn to Advocate
How to Stand Up For Your Rights in the System

Having been in five different types of placements during my years in foster care, I've witnessed a lot of young people's rights being violated. As in any situation, if you don't know your rights or how to stand up for them, it's easy for someone to take advantage of you.

For example, when I was living in a group home in Brooklyn, the staff would withhold the girls' allowances because they felt we didn't have any "discipline." They would ask us to do personal favors for them. Sometimes staff would send us to the store to get them cigarettes or Chinese food. If we refused, our allowances would be withheld.

All the residents were being taken advantage of, but no one questioned the staff because we thought those were the rules. At the time it didn't seem like such a big deal, but now I know that the staff were wrong.

You have to know your rights and stand up for them in the system. You can't assume that someone else is going to do it for you.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is a word that may sound strange, but every young person in foster care should know what it means. Advocacy is when a person or a group of people takes an action (marches, writes a letter, or protests) to change something they don't like or to protect a right they already have. For example, thanks to lawyers "advocating" for former foster youth who became homeless, we now have the right stay in foster care until age 21 and receive Independent Living (which is why Gov. Pataki's proposal to end foster care for some residents at 18 is so discouraging-see cover story).

Whenever you try to advocate or stand up for your rights, you need to understand exactly what your problem is, what your rights are, what you want, and who can give you what you want. In the system this can be very hard. But if you follow certain steps and plan out your goals, you can get what you need (and deserve) from the system.

I'm going to show you some of the steps you can take to stand up for your rights, using the problem in my old group home as the example. You'll be able to use these skills to solve problems not only in foster care, but in other aspects of your life, such as school or work. . .

[read more]