Bronx nonprofit to work with foster care kids up to age 26

Increased city funding will help Catholic Guardian Services work with youth beyond its previous age limit of 21

Catholic Guardian Services

Increased city funding will help a Bronx foster care agency expand the age limit of the young people it serves.

Catholic Guardian Services, will be able to work with young people up to age 26, up from 21, after the city nearly doubled its funding for its Fair Futures program. Fair Futures, a coalition of child welfare agencies, nonprofits, foundations, advocates, and young adults working together for youth in foster care, will receive $30 million in FY2023, up from $13.5 million, according to the budget agreement announced by Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council earlier this month. 

CGS, among 46 foster care agencies in Fair Futures, has used the city’s financial support to fund The Journey, a program which provides students with middle school specialists, employment specialists, and coaches. Youth currently in the program receive mentoring and coaching from ages 11 to 21, learning important study habits, how to navigate the college application process, transition from middle school to high school to college, and how to balance their academic and social lives, according to a CGS press release.

“Because of Fair Futures, we have been able to really enhance those services for young people. We were able to assign a coach to every young person here at Catholic Guardian. And that has really made a positive impact in making sure our young people are getting into the best high schools in New York City,” said Fabiola Toribio, assistant executive director, family permanency services at CGS. 

“Not just to a high school that is around the corner for convenience but to a high school that is in alignment with the child’s or with a young person’s educational goals and needs. Because of the funding, we added educational specialists,” Toribio added.

Of the approximately 6,000 New York City students who spend time in foster care during any given school year, many are disproportionately Black, come from low-income communities and are among the most likely to repeat a grade, need special education services or fail to earn a high school diploma, according to a white paper written by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. 

Katie Napolitano, co-director for Fair Futures, noted the impact made by the program during its debut in FY21. "Of those young people who were coached system-wide … there (were) 1,206 young people who received a coach and who were coached for 90 days or more, which is the engagement period where a coach builds a trusting relationship with the young person," 

"So of those 1,206 system-wide, not just The Journey Program, but also including The Journey Program, 85% of them achieved a positive outcome, and not just one, but an average of three academic or career development goals each and each goal translates to a positive outcome," Napolitano said of those results.