According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1 in 5 young Black boys with disabilities—twice more than their classmates without disabilities—faced suspension in school. This disproportionate statistic is just one reason why the work that Houston-based entrepreneur Nicole Mays-Jackson is doing is so crucial.

Mays-Jackson is the founder and CEO of 1 Care Premier Services, an organization that assists guardians of children with intellectual disabilities. From behavioral support and respite care to transportation, the CEO is changing lives one person at a time.

EBONY: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background in providing comprehensive care for individuals who foster and/or adopt children and those with intellectual disabilities?

Nicole Mays-Jackson: I graduated from Grambling State University with my Master’s degree in Social Work, and began my love for social service during my years in college. I have worked in the social service field for over a decade in both the private and state sector. During my time working in the private sector, it increased my interest in serving children and individuals with intellectual disabilities at a greater level. 1 Care Premier Services was launched in 2015, and since then, I have added different programs to my agency. We provide foster care adoption and home and community-based services. I am also the youngest woman of color to own and operate a company with all three programs.

Why is this type of work so important?

Every day in the State of Texas, children are removed from their family of origin because of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment and are in need of love and a stable environment until they can achieve permanency.  There are currently over 28,000 children in the State of Texas currently in the foster care system.  Over 50% of those children are minorities or children who may have been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities. The U.S. is burdened with limited funding, resources and foster homes for the children who come into care. Oftentimes in our society, the underprivileged are always overlooked and not given a fair opportunity to thrive due to their circumstances and the lack of resources afforded to them. 

As we fight the good fight as an agency, it is important for us to work with the resources we have, as well as seek out additional resources to do our part in providing positive outcomes to children in foster care. It is important to find qualified foster homes to step up and provide a safe, structured and nurturing environment for kids to thrive and achieve their goals.  It is also important for foster parents to be trained to meet the various needs of children who are placed in foster care. In the foster care system, we have to bridge the gaps to help these children cope with the effects of trauma they have experienced in their lives in order to promote positive outcomes.  It is critical to have suitable foster homes and services in place upon a child entering care to limit placement disruptions and develop a sense of normalcy in the child’s life.

What exactly goes into helping these children and families?

With all the challenges in foster care, adoption, home and community-based services, 1 Care Premier Services has stepped up to become one of the premier agencies in Houston to provide a safe, structured and nurturing environment to children in care as well as ensure permanency. We take pride in ensuring that children are placed in a stable home environment and receive the necessary services to cope with the effects of trauma they have encountered in life.

Our agency reimburses foster parents more than the standard rate required by the state. In addition to the standard training required by minimum standards, we offer specialized training based on the child’s needs. We also provide clothing vouchers and daycare assistance for children new to care.

I believe that being a woman of faith you must acknowledge God in all your ways, and he will direct your path, and the path that we want to set for the population that we serve should be a path of love and support for them to excel.