For over 100 years, HeartShare has responded to the needs of the New York community.
HeartShare Human Services incorporates on July 12 as Catholic Guardian Society of Brooklyn and Queens, and starts assisting over 5,000 orphaned and destitute children upon their release from childcare institutions and orphanages at a time when neither society nor the law provides them any protections.
Recognizing the unique needs of the genders, a Boys’ Division and a Girls’ Division are created to focus on youth 16 years old and older to find them homes and jobs and to provide appropriate counseling.
As the drug epidemic explodes in U.S. cities, children of every age become at-risk. New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare certifies HeartShare for foster care services for youth 16 years old and older. HeartShare offers services without any age restrictions.
As a better alternative to foster care, New York City’s first prevention program – HeartShare’s South Brooklyn Prevention – provides counseling to families in crisis to keep them united and avoid foster care placement of their children.
Under a Federal court mandate after the exposure of horrific conditions at Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, New York State agrees to close the institution and provide community-based living for over 5,000 individuals. At the request of the state, HeartShare opens its first group home – Clinton Residence – for seven boys from Willowbrook and one boy living within the community.
Spurred by the vast numbers of unaccompanied immigrant Vietnamese, Cambodian, Amerasian and Haitian children, HeartShare is one of only four NYC agencies to establish a Refugee Assistance Foster Care Program to protect those minors, resulting in large increases in the number of foster homes in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island.
Medical research indicates that early intervention for children diagnosed with developmental disabilities greatly enhances their chances for more appropriate development. HeartShare opens two of its First Step Early Childhood Centers, one in Brooklyn and one in Queens. The Centers are the first of its kind in New York City for children two to five years of age.
Families, caring for their loved ones with developmental disabilities who live at home, seek resources that provide an array of recreational opportunities in the community for those in care. HeartShare introduces its Respite/Recreation Program, initially with a Summer Day Camp, that offers families well-deserved respite and opens a whole new world to individuals through supervised outings and activities.
As group homes flourish throughout our community, there is a corresponding need for additional adult day programs that provide training and community inclusion opportunities, consistent with the normal rhythms of life. HeartShare locates its first educational program for adults with developmental disabilities – the Eileen and William Lavin Day Treatment Center – in Williamsburg.
Reflective of expanding and diverse programming, and responding to marketplace perceptions, Catholic Guardian Society of Brooklyn and Queens changes its name to HeartShare Human Services of New York.
As HIV/AIDS spreads throughout the general population, children face greater challenges, including the inevitability of foster care and adoption. HeartShare initiates its HIV/AIDS Scattered Site Housing and Case Management Programs to ensure dignified family living and holistic services for the stable well-being of families affected by HIV/AIDS. Economic realities force parents into the out-of-home workforce, creating more “latchkey” children vulnerable to “street” society. HeartShare opens its first Youth Program PS 329’s Beacon Program — that provides after-school educational and recreational opportunities, as well as social services, for young students in a safe and supervised environment within the heart of their own community.
Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with greater independence may live in the community with staff support and individualized service options rather than in a group home setting. HeartShare’s 35th Avenue Residence in Flushing, Queens is the first supervised Independent Residential Alternative (IRA) program in New York City.
Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who have advanced beyond traditional day treatment services, are ready for a productive, self-fulfilling role in the community. HeartShare’s Queen Day Habilitation Program in Bayside, Queens is the first Day Hab in New York City.
Since its inception as the American Dream Fund in 1997, the program has changed the lives of 100 young men and women. Today, HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services continues to provide tuition assistance, room and board, tutoring, counseling, health care and other expenses for postsecondary education, even past age 21, when youth age out of foster care.
In 1999, St. Vincent’s Services (SVS) first opened its licensed Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Program. In 2007, SVS launched its Supportive Housing Initiative, serving adult clients who struggle with substance abuse, mental health issues and/or developmental disabilities. The program provides health and drug treatment and supports to encourage independence.
Finding comprehensive and coordinated medical and health services for children and adults with developmental disabilities proves extremely difficult and frustrating. HeartShare Wellness, Ltd., an affiliate of HeartShare, opens in downtown Brooklyn. The facility offers holistic medical, health and wellness services provided by a staff trained specifically to address conditions unique to the special needs population.
Community leaders, responding to parents of children with autism and frustrated by the lack of adequate services, ask HeartShare to expand its education services by developing a school-age program focused on children, ages five to 21 years, on the autism spectrum. In April, the HeartShare Education Center, an affiliate of HeartShare, opens its doors.
Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities seek growing financial independence and a sense of pride that comes from working. HeartShare’s Kaleidoscope Program offers volunteer and training opportunities that prepare for competitive employment.
Seeking to provide full-service programs for children on the autism spectrum, the Craig and Susan Eaton Residence for girls and the Joseph and Laura Caruana Residence for boys open in Brooklyn, adjacent to the Center, offering an alternative to children who would otherwise would have been sent upstate or out of state. Opened in 2011, HeartShare’s SPA Overnight Respite Program is located on the second floor of a spacious two-family home in Great Kills, Staten Island. With its focus on autism, it was the first overnight program of its kind for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York City.
Patients with chronic conditions face high incidences of Emergency Room visits and hospitalizations. HeartShare Wellness opens Health Home Targeted Case Management Program to coordinate health care and services to stabilize the individual’s health and quality of life.
As public policies affecting the structure and funding of the childcare system and services for those diagnosed with developmental disabilities continue to evolve to yet uncertain paradigms, HeartShare enters its second century prepared to meet those challenges, remaining true to its mission to nurture and support, with dignity and respect, children, adults and families in order to expand opportunities and enhance lives.