Nyomi was a resident of The Child Center Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) from July 2020-June 2021. Severe aggressive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and poor social skills had led to dangerous situations, and Nyomi found herself involved in the juvenile justice system at 15 years old. The Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) referred Nyomi to The Child Center RTF. Below is her story, in her own words.
I live in Poughkeepsie, New York, with my mom and five siblings. I am the oldest.
I live there now, and I lived there before, but for a year I lived at The Child Center of NY RTF.
I was sent there because I was running away and got locked up. I don’t want to talk about why I was running away. I would get mad and just leave. The last time, they gave me two choices: go to a secure facility or go to the RTF, where I could do home visits. I requested the RTF.
At first, I was really nervous, but then I realized it wasn’t that bad. My first day there, I met Youth Advocates Taheem Powell, Geraldine Lelanne, Jennifer Perez, and Brian Louis. They showed me they actually cared. If I was going through stuff, I could talk to any of them. They were always there for me. I could tell them my secrets, about how I was feeling, and they wouldn’t tell anybody, they would just help me. I could say, “Can I talk to you?” to any of them — Jennifer and Brian, and also Dolores Davis and Unit Leaders Jackie German and Rasheim Smith… all my favorite staff — and they would say yes.
I had individual therapy and family therapy at the RTF. I learned to manage my thoughts by using coping skills and expressing my feelings instead of running away or hurting anybody.
Things with my mom are much better. She says I improved a whole lot — a complete 180! At family therapy sessions, we talked about what caused me to end up in placement, and what I needed to do to return home and remain home. And now I’m home! I’ve been free from self-harm for not only the three months pre-discharge, but also following discharge. I worked at a local farm over the summer. Now I’m a senior in my old high school, after going to school at the RTF,* where I did really well. I took geometry, algebra, and other classes. I was promoted to 12th grade, and I am going to graduate early! I’m glad I’m going to get to graduate from my old school.
I’ve been at home for five months now. I stay connected to my Credible Messenger and am continuing therapy and working toward my life’s goals. I want to become a veterinarian because I love animals.
Back then — before I went to the RTF — to now, I’ve really improved. Before, when I got mad, I just left and didn’t come back. Now, I ask my mom, “Can I go somewhere?” and she says yes or no. If she says no and I get mad, I can go to my room and look at my phone or call one of my friends. I’m more responsible, and we get along more. My mom, she’ll talk to me about things. She says she knows what to do if I give her a problem — but it’s rare now.
*During Nyomi’s time at the RTF, she attended school on site through the NYC Department of Education. The RTF is unique in this way, as Nyomi was able to receive special education services through the DOE while receiving support from milieu staff.