Agencies often have difficulty placing Black children with foster families who are culturally competent enough to care for them. This, compounded with the already inherent challenges of parenting, leave fostered children in serious need of critical support.
That’s where Nicole Mays Jackson comes in.
She is the founder and CEO of 1CarePremier, a Houston-area comprehensive care company that provides the resources stretched foster parents need to help offer the attention their foster children deserve.
She was inspired to launch the company in an effort to prevent at-risk youth from feeling alienated, something she felt as an only child to a single mother.
“I had issues with my identity since I didn’t have both my mother and father in my life growing up,” Mays shared with ESSENCE. “People think that experiencing brokenness is relegated to those in foster care but it’s possible for anyone to feel that way, even with biological parents.”
After discovering her passion for and building a career in social work, she realized the significant gaps in care within the fostering system, namely a lack of critical mental health and other tangible resources for stressed foster parents.
“We are an agency with foster care, adoption, and community-based solutions,” she said, pointing out she’s the youngest woman of color to have all three. She explained that she works closely with Child Protective Services to temporarily house, and then eventually place kids who are newly entered into the system into a more permanent foster home.
“They will place the child with us,” she said. “We also help facilitate in-state adoptions,” a notoriously arduous process. After launching in 2015, she’s helped hundreds of clients find their footing with fostering, something that’s desperately needed, particularly within the Black community.
Black children are overrepresented in the foster care system—they account for almost 14% of the children in the nation, yet they made up 23% of the kids in the child welfare system.
“The last thing Black foster children need is to incompetent care that stems from being in the presence of parents that don’t have what they need to support them properly,” she said.
1CarePremier offers a wide range of services, including behavioral support, respite care, transportation, and personal care. Over the years, she has made it her mission to build a team of passionate professionals who share her commitment to showing up when no one else has.
“I was called to do this work,” she said, mentioning her deep spiritual faith helps keep her grounded in a field that can sometimes be incredibly challenging. She shares her journey running a mission-based businesses in her weekly podcast Sewing Seeds. “I love what I do because it’s about the people—it’s always about the people.”