Feb 2017 - In This Issue:
Where We Work


YAP serves over 13,000 families a year in more than 100 programs across 21 states and the District of Columbia in rural, suburban and urban areas. 

YAP Film


"Safely Home" showcases the power of the YAP model across diverse geographies and demographics by sharing the stories of youth and staff in three different YAP locations:  urban Chicago, Orange County, NY, and rural Louisiana.   
News Around YAP
In November, YAP's Southwest Leadership Team participated in "Good to Great" conference that included vibrant training and professional development sessions.  


On December 3, over 200 youth, families, YAP staff and college students gathered at Lebanon Valley College for a Street Soccer Tournament.  

York, PA's Thrival Corps program held a "Share Day" on December 7th.  The event was an opportunity for participants to share what they have learned about being successful in the world of work with the larger community.     

Kyrah had more than her fair share of struggles in her young life.  With the support of her YAP Advocate, she was able to "choose a new story" for her life.  Read more about Kyrah's story and the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education on our website.  

Current and alumni youth from Tompkins County YAP learned how to prepare, cook and serve dinner to a group of 80, including family members and service providers.  

Our International team visited Sweden recently to provide training to staff from the Botkyrka project in preparation for the program's expansion into Stockholm.  

Thanks to a generous donor and the support of YAP employees from Dauphin County YAP and YAP's Support Center, over 175 kids and families were provided with toys and clothing.  Santa was even in attendance!

Thanks to a donation fro a local businessman, YAP's program in Pittsburgh was able to hold a holiday party for 30 youth, who were able to pick out three toys of their choosing.  In addition, they enjoyed pizza and cupcakes too!  Thanks to Program Director Trisha Carmo, for making this connection for a neighboring program.  

With the help of donations from the local community, Walker County staff were able to put on an event and provide 40 youth and their siblings with holiday presents.

Staff from Essex and Union County NJ were committed to brightening the holidays for the youth and families they serve.  Most advocates have other jobs in addition to their employment with YAP and several employees secured donations from their other employers to help fund holiday activities for YAP families.  Other staff networked with local community partners to get support for holiday festivities.  Thanks to their efforts, many smiles were seen on the faces of the kids and families in Essex/Union.  

Ulster County YAP teamed up with local businesses in an effort to collect new toys from community members.  YAP youth and staff wrapped the gifts and delivered them to local firefighters for their toy drive.  Gifts were delivered to 25 local children between the ages of 1-18 whose families could not afford the expense of Christmas gifts. 

Tom Green County Advocate Program recently received the Friend of Counseling Award  for the impact their Prevention Program has had on elementary school kids.  The Tom Green team is led by Program Director Lisa Gutierrez, pictured below with Vice President Talvin Paul, receiving the award.  

Thoughts from YAP's CEO
Well into our 41st year, Youth Advocate Program remains true to our mission to reduce our nation's reliance on out of home placement and institutional care through evidence-informed, cost-effective community-based programming that strengthens families. We have dozens of new programs that are building capacity in communities across the country to support those youth, adults and families who are struggling with significant challenges, or who have been marginalized, pushed out and forgotten. 

Today, YAP operates programs in 100 communities across 21 states and the District of Columbia.  We serve youth, adults and families who find themselves in the deep end of human service systems, such as juvenile justice, child welfare, behavioral health, education, autism and disabilities, workforce development, substance abuse and adult services.

This newsletter shares an overview of some of our work in different areas over the last year.  Though we offer a diversity of services, our experience has taught us that certain service delivery principles are the most important when looking for success across needs and systems:
  • Work with those youth and families who others exclude or eject
  • Hire staff from the communities where the kids live
  • Focus on identifying the needs, strengths and interests of each youth and develop meaningful individualized service plans tailored to each youth
  • Provide the opportunity for the youth and their family to have a voice in telling us what their needs are and a choice as to developing their own plan
  • Focus our work on the entire family and build trusting relationships
  • Connect the youth and family with positive community people, supports and services
As we face a new year with undoubtedly new challenges, we are energized to remain focused on our mission and to identify new and better ways to partner with communities to help meet the needs of some of the highest and most complex need youth, adults and families. 
Warm Regards,

Jeff Fleischer, MSW
CEO of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. 
business_finance_research.jpgA UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS STUDY funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) shows that YAP youth do better than comparison group in key areas, such as lower arrests and incidents of misconduct with increased and improved connections to family, school and work. It also finds value in "playful activities" over discussions about problems later in the therapeutic relationship.
This year YAP has developed four new models that we are offering around the country. 
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
The commercial sexual exploitation of youth is an industry that continues to grow, and increasingly intersects our work with youth in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Based on our experience and success in Las Vegas, we've DESIGNED A MODEL that emphasizes promoting the safe recovery of youth from within the community. YAP's services are trauma informed, gender specific and culturally responsive, and engage survivors when possible. In addition to our traditional 24/7 accessibility in the community and advocacy services, we also offer interventions such as My Life, My Choice, Girls Circle, subsidized employment, and family work.  The program also relies heavily upon strong collaborations with the court, key law enforcement stakeholders, mental and sexual health providers and others. 
System-involved youth are at much higher risk of disconnection from work.  YAPWORX helps to prepare youth for work and engages them with the local labor market through a blend of instruction and experiential service learning activities.  YAPWORX takes an individualized approach by tailoring activities to the young person's career interests, and by focusing on the skills they need to succeed.  Most importantly, YAPWORX helps to build young people's social capital and connections to the labor market.  It's designed for youth with no work or training success so far to prepare for their future economic opportunity.  

We just celebrated our FIRST GROUP OF YAPWORX GRADUATES in York County, PA. 100% of youth who started the Thrival Corps program completed it!  We're proud of these young people, and of their staff and Opportunity Advisors who supported them.  

Recovery Advocates Substance Abuse Services
Drug and alcohol use is a risk factor for both child maltreatment and often for youth criminality.  YAP builds from our traditional approach to provide relentless community-based support and outreach to kids and adults struggling with these issues.  The model recruits caring adults who are in recovery or who have family experience with addiction to serve as Recovery Advocates. In addition, specific evidence-based interventions are utilized that target use and stage of change. YAP's intervention helps prepare adults and kids for treatment, and it also augments the effectiveness of treatment for those participating in outpatient programs.
Transition to Adulthood
Due to greater understanding of brain development, increasing attention and dialogue is directed at how best to move young adults with the child welfare and justice systems. YAP's model for transition aged youth is intensive, engaging youth aged 18 to 26 who are aging out of foster care systems, returning from youth or adult prison, have mental health needs but not amenable to the adult system, or have no connection to family, school or work. The service provides outreach, family finding, YAPWORX, subsidized employment, life skills development and connections to housing, mental health, medical services, and substance abuse services. 
Though our model successfully works with youth at various points in the system, our mission is most closely aligned with engaging higher risk youth through providing alternatives to detention or placement as well as through providing aftercare to youth reintegrating from placement.

We continue to help communities build their capacity to safely care for these youth from within their homes and neighborhoods. Last year, our Alternative to Detention and Placement programs expanded into new jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., Prince George's County, MD, and Kansas.  These services also expanded into Indianapolis but in an innovative way. 

YAP is engaged with a PAY FOR SUCCESS project designed to provide community-based alternatives to placement for moderate and high risk youth in Marion County.  We are also engaged in a statewide Pay for Success project in Pennsylvania that is in development and seeks to improve outcomes for justice involved youth across the Commonwealth. 

YAP works with youth who are at high risk of perpetrating or being victims of violence. Our program in SOUTH AND WEST CHICAGO engages youth with gun charges from within the community. Our newest violence reduction program in Las Vegas is in partnership with Anthem and MARKETPLACE SOLUTIONS AND INCENTIVES PROJECT (MSIP) to prevent future injuries from violence; and a recent federal grant in Alabama has YAP working with victims of domestic violence. 

YAP was also awarded a multi-state mentoring federal grant funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) that will provide services to at-risk youth identified by schools in Alabama, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Join us on February 24th @ 1pm EST for a #BeyondBars webinar to learn more about the principles and core components of building a community-based continuum of care for system-involved youth.  REGISTER NOW 

According to a new REPORT released by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, federal child abuse and neglect numbers increased for the third year in a row.  YAP's programming in child welfare continues to identify ways to preserve and strengthen families as alternatives to out of home placement, help to reunify families and prevent re-entry into the system, and also work to find permanent families for children who are languishing in care.  

Many communities are also aspiring to achieve the same goals, and as a result, YAP has seen significant growth across the country. Most recently, we have started a program in Rhode Island designed to prevent the unnecessary placement of youth into foster or congregate care settings using our traditional model and the Strengthening Families Program. 

In Alabama we began an intensive in home program in a number of counties across the state to both safely return youth from placement and prevent future placements.

In New York City we began a pilot program to serve the city's older, homeless youth who have shown challenging behaviors and for whom there are no foster or congregate care placements that will accept them. We are using a blend of permanency recruitment based on Kevin Campbell's Family Finding, along with YAP's traditional intensive wraparound services and supports and subsidized employment to place the youth with families and get them supported and back on track. We have partnered with CHILDREN'S HOME AND AID SOCIETY who provide host homes for 30 days while the plans are being developed.

In New Jersey we are providing FATHERHOOD PROGRAMS throughout the state so young men can work to develop healthy relationships with their children and be good role models.  We are also working to support attachment and bonding between incarcerated mothers and their children in the state. 

In New York State we are also providing services to families with children AGED 0 TO 5 in multiple counties that are designed to expedite permanency, support bonding and attachment, identify and address any developmental disabilities, and support parents through concrete help, parent education, and help with addressing substance use, economic, and mental health challenges.     
YAP Employees Contribute $26k to Endowment Fund From Payroll Deduction Alone
The TOM JEFFERS ENDOWMENT FUND FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION awarded 34 scholarships in 2016.  Over 3/4 of the money raised last year was from YAP employees' own voluntary payroll deductions.  In addition, many staff put forth much time and effort organizing fundraisers for the fund.  We thank our staff for their generosity and continued commitment to the futures of our youth!
Our employment services continue to grow thanks to increased employment relationships and funding sources through our Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). YAPWORX has been redefined for use with the DD/ID community.  With our Ticket to Work program, we are expanding our services to include benefit planning.  We have been able to help youth ages 14-21 through WIOA pre-employment transitions services.  YAP staff are receiving certification through Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators (ACRE).  Additionally, our employee business network has recently expanded to include Edible Arrangements and Eat N Park restaurants.  

Our Behavior Support Services continue to increase opportunities for individuals to be in non-segregated community settings.  Staff are being certified in this area.

The PA Developmental Disability Council awarded YAP a grant to create a film about stigmas and work issues and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Our Allegheny PA office continues to work on this project and anticipates a release date in April 2017.

One of our individuals involved with the Pittverse magazine who receives services from YAP is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Bureau of Autism.  For the 3rd year, the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust has awarded YAP with funding to continue to the Pittsverse Magazine.  

Pennsylvania YAP has begun a Human Rights Committee with the goal of the majority of the members being family and individuals with a disability.  

Mental Health America has published a report "THE STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA 2017" that is a summary of data collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Among their key findings, they found that states that have the least access to mental health care have the highest rates of imprisonment.  

YAP's Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Program in Harris County, TX introduced a new activity to their youth and families for 2017:  "New Year, New Vision."  Individuals were encouraged to create a vision board to express what they want for themselves and their future through pictures.  This activity proved to be a concrete and creative way to break down their service plan goals into measurable steps, allowing them to track and celebrate their progress.  
A recent Annie E. Casey Foundation BLOG recommends actions to replace the youth prison model.  YAP's POLICY & ADVOCACY CENTER is available to assist and support system leaders to redirect their resources from prisons, psych hospitals, residential facilities to family focused and neighborhood based programs, easy to access, cost efficient and that get great outcomes.

BEYOND BARS: Keeping Young People Safe at Home and out of Youth Prisons is a report just released that provides a road map for how to right size or close juvenile justice correctional facilities and to build capacity in the community to serve youth charged with crimes and who have complex needs. The report is published by the National Collaboration for Youth (of the National Human Service Assembly) and authored by YAP's National Policy Director Shaena Fazal. The report provides the principles and concrete examples of how to shift care of young people from prisons to a community based continuum of formal and informal services and supports. 
Training New Street Soccer Facilitators
Delegates from YAP communities in Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Guatemala attended the first all-day STREET SOCCER Training in December in Lebanon, PA. Guided by the three values of solidarity, collaboration, and respect, street soccer is both a modality and an international social transformation movement to teach leadership and mediation skills to maneuver conflict to young people. Classroom instruction was interspersed with experiential learning to build inclusiveness and community and learn the modality first hand and develop plans to introduce street soccer to their local YAP community.

One participant noted, "With street soccer, our youth can learn leadership skills, improve their negotiating skills, and improve how they engage with others."

Youth Advocate Programs

YAP is a nationally recognized, nonprofit organization exclusively committed to the provision of community-based alternatives to out-of-home care through direct service, advocacy and policy change since 1975.