Northwell, NYC Children's Services, foster agencies team up to help young adults transition from foster care

Northwell Health has teamed up with New York City organizations to launch a new pilot program that aims to improve healthcare services for young adults transitioning out of foster care.

The Youth Healthcare Link program is a collaboration between Northwell Health, NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the Center for Fair Futures, a coalition of more than 100 organizations advocating for foster youth, and three foster agencies serving Queens. 

Working with ACS and the Center for Fair Futures’ coaches, the program will enroll 50 to 100 transition-age adults, pairing them with Northwell’s patient navigation services. Based on the results of the pilot, the groups will evaluate the potential to expand the program across the city.

The program's goal is to help young adults between the ages of 20 and 26 who are preparing to or have transitioned from foster care adapt to their new independent lives with a foundation of good health. It aims to promote new, potentially lifelong relationships with healthcare providers and this vulnerable population.

Once the young adults are enrolled, the health system’s care management organization, Northwell Health Solutions, will direct them to health screenings like routine physicals, behavioral health and sexual health. The goal is for young adults to embrace healthy lifestyle changes, including sleep, social connection, exercise and diet, in addition to preventive health screenings. Each participant will also be assessed for social needs and be connected to the relevant services. 

“Ensuring access to health services for transition-age young adults is imperative for their future well-being,” Daniel Shacknai, VP of emerging markets at Northwell’s Behavioral Health Service Line, said in a press release. “These individuals stand at the crossroads of adulthood, and we must provide them with the health care resources they need to navigate this crucial journey with confidence and resilience.” 

Young people who have transitioned out of foster care and are working with the Center for Fair Futures helped design the pilot, providing insights into the most critical needs and effective strategies for their communities. 

“The Center for Fair Futures takes a holistic approach to supporting New York City's most vulnerable young people and ensuring access to quality health care is a key part of our model,” Tracy Jenkins, co-executive director at The Center for Fair Futures, said in the announcement. “Every young person can benefit from additional support navigating our health system to ensure they get the physical and mental health care they need. We are grateful to partner with ACS and Northwell on this pioneering program informed by the lived experiences of youth that will break barriers and provide the care and opportunities young people deserve.”