Helping families help themselves

Today, there are about 500,000 children in America who can't live at home, and about 2 million children who are at risk of being removed from their homes.

About 120 years ago, the organization that is now called Northeast Parent and Child Society, consisted of a group of a few Schenectady women who wanted to do something to help the homeless children of their city. They formed an organization called the Children's Home of Schenectady. Years later, they merged with Parkhurst Parent and Child Center to form the Northeast Parent and Child Society.

Currently, the organization serves 22 counties in New York State, from the border of Canada all the way down to Westchester County. Northeast Parent and Child Society has many programs and serves many purposes, but it has one goal: Our goals are to relieve trauma and to teach people the skills they need to pull themselves and their families out of poverty for good, said Laura Alpert, vice president of communications for Northeast Parent and Child Society.

The organization helps 5,000 children and family members in need each year through a variety of programs, ranging from placing children in foster care to working with families to teach parents and children to lead healthy, productive lives. The program has a simple philosophy: Once they make sure each child is safe and receiving what he or she needs to succeed, they try to make sure that each child grows up to be a responsible, contributing adult.

"We bring love to create hope so that people will make the effort who have been victimized by society to succeed," said Jim Johans, CEO of Northeast Parent and Child Society.

According to Johans, 80 percent of the children and families they serve live in poverty. Their average family consists of a single, working mother who has one or two jobs (both of which are part time, which means the mother doesn't get benefits) and two or three children.

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