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LSA Family Health Services (LSA) is located in East Harlem New York City, NY. The organization began as the Little Sisters of Assumption, with six Catholic sisters from France, in New York City in 1891. LSA has worked in East Harlem since 1958 with the goal to support people in respect and dignity by nursing the “sick poor” in their own homes.


The LSA six tenets are: 1) the uniqueness and dignity of each person, 2) the strength of families, 3) the power of relationships, 4) the richness of diversity, 5) justice as a right for every person, and 6) the creativity of the human spirit.


Throughout the history, the nurses and staff developed services organically from needs of the clients. There is a place-based focus on health for the most vulnerable as opposed to specific community group focus. The Parent/Child Development Program (PCD) orients around five priorities: 1) secure attachment and separation, 2) language and literacy, 3) self-regulation, 4) exploration and play, and 5) resources.


LSA programming is responsive to the needs of the community and currently addresses:

  • Community Health and Wellness (Advocacy and Food Pantry, Nursing, and Environmental Health Services

  • Family Support (Parenting and Child Development, Preventive Services, and The Sharing Place Thrift Store); and

  • Additional services (mental health counseling, support groups, and classes)


There is a mutuality at LSA that pervades staff and programming. One home visitor staff person said: "You're not just giving; you're receiving." There is connection and exchange between people.


LSA Family Health Services was selected as a NOW Bright Spot because of its work to address the needs of children and their families, through an asset-based, trauma informed approach. LSA Health Services is a neighborhood-based collective impact initiative designed to strengthen families and promote neighborhood wellbeing for all.


The LSA tenets articulate the original purpose of the first six sisters who arrived from France on a mission to care for the “sick poor.” LSA has integrated Touchpoints, systems approach of children’s developmental points with support to parents, into programming and throughout LSA services. Training, of all staff and board members in the Touchpoints approach was provided to reconnect programming with the Little Sisters of Assumption tradition.


The services and programming provided address the barriers and challenges experienced by the neighborhood and evolve in response to community input and changing needs.


LSA has a very strong volunteer program and director. The volunteer outreach and engagement has been a key part of services. The Junior Board are active younger professionals who want to get involved and have many talents to share including new support strategies, tutoring, outreach and fundraising as well as provide new creative ideas.


LSA seeks to serve people, in mutuality, who are ill in their homes or needing basic foodstuffs. The organization invites people who enter in through illness or want to the programming and support which relies on relationship building, bonding, trust, connection, and community.


Parents have been involved in advocacy efforts. They've advocated for food stamps and immigration issues.


At LSA, the rules are flexible and not a “3 strikes and out” policy so clients can reschedule. The LSA environment is welcoming, nonjudgmental and not rigid. Clients feel that LSA has raised their kids. Some people who support the organization received services as children.


Because LSA is place-based, the community has transformed over the many years. The sisters, nurses, and staff have had to educate themselves when the community has transformed to learn the new health challenges people face, the needs and gaps, culturally specific needs as well as connecting opportunities.


The parents are supported in a process of continuous learning. A former LSA client is now a teacher here. She received services 18 years ago. She felt alone and had no friends when she first arrived in the country. At LSA, she felt comfortable, welcomed, and that they understood her culture. She came here with a 6th grade education and LSA encouraged her to get her high school diploma. She is now in college.


The mission of LSA Family Health Services (LSA) is to support and serve vulnerable people with a historic mission of caring for people who are ill in their homes. The organization makes every encounter an opportunity for connection, dignity, and mutual respect.


LSA provides culturally comfortable programming for the community. LSA parents learn how to play and how to play with their children because many had to work during their childhood in their natal homes and did not play with friends nor with parents.


PCD staff meet to debrief on cases and support each other to process traumatic experiences of clients so they can better serve clients. The mental health clinician has participated in trauma-informed training. The staff reflected that there is a difference between situational trauma and trauma that's impacting their health.


Reada Eldestein

Executive Director, LSA Family Health Services

“Helping East Harlem Families Rise”

“Spirit of East Harlem: Improving the Lives of Underserved Families”

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