Stories of Recovery

Juli's Story

Helping a Foster Youth Recover and Grow.

At twelve years old, Juli* was no stranger to foster care. After several failed placements, she came to Cedar Knolls House, The Jewish Board’s group residence for young girls battling addiction, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Recognizing her potential, our staff used trauma-informed treatment to create a healing environment for Juli to gain the tools needed to thrive. This is her story.

A Foster Youth’s Complex Needs

Juli was struggling. Her biological mother, who was grappling with challenges of her own, was unable to support Juli and meet her basic needs. After several failed placements before the age of 12, Juli was facing several mental health care needs and medical diagnoses, including multiple psychiatric hospitalizations throughout New York state due to severe at-risk behaviors, including self-harm and suicidal ideation. It was evident that traditional foster home placement wasn’t enough to meet Juli’s complex needs, so she was referred to The Jewish Board for a more personalized and professional approach.

Finding Sanctuary and Setting Goals

When first arriving at Cedar Knolls House, Juli had a period of adjustment and grappled with self-destructive behaviors. Despite these challenges, the clinical team persisted, recognizing Juli’s untapped potential.

To support residents like Juli, Cedar Knolls House uses the sanctuary model, a comprehensive trauma-informed treatment that creates a safe and healing environment and includes family involvement when possible. Terry-Ann, Juli’s compassionate, competent, and professional social worker, worked alongside her to create a supportive space and unique treatment model so she could receive the best care possible.

Cedar Knolls House also helps participants recover by ensuring their environment is not seen as a “facility.” Juli had a single-bedroom apartment, WiFi access, daily youth-driven activities, and family-style eating with other residents. Cedar Knolls House also provides on-site therapists, direct support professionals, and residence managers, but their officers are located elsewhere in the building, so the apartment spaces themselves feel more home-like.

Making Progress and Finding Her Voice

While therapy initially posed a challenge for Juli, over time, she started engaging with her behavioral health supervisor, which led her to learn that artistic expression was a powerful outlet for her. She also worked with her team to excel in high school, graduating at 17. Post-graduation, she navigated a shift from a nursing assistant program to becoming a certified security guard, which led to an opportunity to work full-time at a women’s shelter. Juli’s ongoing journey includes therapy, artistic expression, and active participation in the Cedar Knolls House Youth Council, allowing her to be a voice for her peers.

Consistent staff support, making positive connections with staff, and never feeling judged all helped give Juli the tools she needed for success. In addition, since Juli had very limited family support, the clinical team connected her with a friend’s parent so she could serve as a visiting resource and support for Juli. Due to her personal growth and adherence to meeting with the psychiatrist for monthly medication management, she has not experienced psychiatric hospitalization for over three years.

Looking Ahead

Today, Juli aspires to transition to supportive or NYCHA housing, maintain employment, engage with services regularly, enhance her money management skills, enroll in college, reconnect with her younger brother, and obtain a driver’s license. For Juli, the last four years have demonstrated how the unwavering support from the care team at Cedar Knolls House can affect someone’s trajectory, and we take great pride and honor in playing a critical role in her success. Juli truly embodies resilience, and we are grateful to be part of her inspiring journey.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.

Our Continued Support

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Children’s Mental Health

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