Photo credit: © Sesame Workshop / Ryan Heffernan
Educational success is widely regarded as one pathway out of poverty. However, children with medical complexity – those with significant health problems, disabilities or developmental disorders – who
are involved in the child welfare system, often experience significant barriers that prevent them from accessing the resources and tools needed to build a strong foundation for the future.
New Alternatives for Children (NAC) is an award-winning child welfare agency that provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary health and social services for children who are living in poverty, have experienced or are
at risk for abuse/neglect, and have complex medical and mental-health challenges. Founded in 1982, NAC is one of the only child welfare agencies in New York City with an extensive on-site education department.
Through their NAC Kids Can Education Partnership, NAC’s nine full-time, master’s-level education specialists provide services to children in special medical and foster-care programs who have historically
fallen through the cracks.
The program’s individualized educational support begins with babies and early childhood education and extends through high school and beyond. To ensure that no young person served is educationally disadvantaged,
NAC and its civic and volunteer partners provide advocacy in numerous forms, including school placement, special education support and transportation assistance, as well as home-based and after-school programs,
one‐on‐one tutoring and test preparation assistance. Additionally, they offer literacy programs for parents and young children, and a College Bound program that supports adolescents beginning their college journey.
NAC also advocates with the NYC Department of Education to provide services to support children with highly specialized needs and to minimize the impact of child welfare involvement on the child’s academic success.
“The NAC Kids Can Education Partnership serves more than 600 children and their families each year. Many of these children are among New York City’s most vulnerable and medically complex residents,” said
NAC founder and Executive Director Arlene Goldsmith, LCSW, Ph.D. “Despite the extraordinary challenges they face, these young people deserve the same opportunities we want for our own children, including access
to the best schools for their academic needs and a chance at a brighter future.”