NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For many, it could be hard growing up in foster care, but one woman is trying to ease the burden for everyone involved.
By using her experience, she has voluntarily created a new city-run website full of resources, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Monday.
Shyanne Hope-Cross said it doesn’t just look easy, it is easy to operate the new website ACS Connect Me. She would know, since the former foster care child came up with the idea.
“I never thought I would be doing anything close to this,” Hope-Cross said.
The 25-year-old Harlem woman was in foster care since she was 3 years old. She spent most of the time with her twin sister and younger sister in one home, but eventually bounced around to 11 more before she aged out of the system, having never been adopted.“I grew up without a birth certificate or Social Security number until I was 19 years old, same as my twin sister,” Hope-Cross said.
She said the two of them also grew up with a lot of questions and little help, which is why she came up with the new website — and she did it with no background in computer programming.
“The most background I have is YouTube,” she said with a laugh.
Hope-Cross said she used memories of her past to help fuel other foster kids’ futures.“I realized the limited resources that came with networking things together, whereas I had to beg and plead with a case worker over one thing, and go to a supervisor for another thing,” she said.
The new website is a one-stop shop for everything a foster care child, foster care parent or a child welfare professional needs to know, including educational and employment programs and resources for mental health.
“We wanted to put all of that information at everyone’s fingertips so people can have access to it and make use of it,” Family Permanency Services Deputy Commissioner Julie Farber said.
The website is currently being tested at the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, but will be available to everyone at the end of the month, even those not in foster care.
“You don’t have to be a foster child to experience trauma or to utilize mental health services that ACS Connect Me can offer,” Hope-Cross said.
A former foster care child caring enough to help others make a better life.