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

Q&A: Healthy Relationships
Youth Communication
What Does ‘Family’ Mean?



My mother taught me what she knew in the crucial early years of my life. Up until I was 6 or 7, I thought she was a superhero, a person who went out to work and brought food home.

But then she had a car accident and stopped working. She started doing drugs and selling our food stamps for drug money. She’d smoke with us kids in the house, and we ended up in the hospital with asthma. I still looked up to her: When you’re little, you don’t know it’s your mother’s fault that there’s no food and you’re breathing smoke.

No one else can know how I looked taking my first steps, and the faces I made when I cried, and how I loved to read even when I couldn’t fathom the words on the page. Only my family knows how I was. Though they let me down, I think the blood tie will connect us forever. Your family knows your history and can tell you what you don’t remember. If we don’t know our history, we don’t really know ourselves.

That doesn’t mean we’re the same. My mother and other relatives shaped me by showing me what I didn’t want to be. As a teenager, I saw my family drive and lose nice cars, buy and lose houses, and make and lose family ties because of drug addiction. By the time I got to college, I knew well the downside of drugs and alcohol, so I fear and avoid them. At 21, I’m in my third year of college, with a job I love, and living in my own apartment.

I blame my family for depriving me of love, stability, and security, yet I feel forever connected to them. I hate them for not striving to be more than what they are, but I believe I will never love anyone more than I love them.

For example, my last foster mother provided what my mother did not: a home where people eat together and don’t curse and the parent wakes the kids up for school. Once I told her I was cold when I stepped out of bed in the morning, and the next day, there was a rug next to my bed. She is an angel, and she made me feel like a worthy person again.

But I will never be able to love my foster mother more than my birth mother. That’s partly because my relationship with her feels like a temporary bond. She helped me heal, but she also made it clear that her job as a foster mother ended when I turned 21.

I think most people put blood first; I worry that if I called a friend or boyfriend or mentor my “family,” they wouldn’t return the feeling—that they’d choose their blood family over me. . .

[read more]