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OJJDP Study Finds YAP Involvement
Positively Affects Youth
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released a study of justice-involved youth enrolled in Youth Advocate Programs (YAP).  The study resulted in four major findings, including that involvement in YAP resulted in:

  1. improved connectedness of YAP youth to their teachers
  2. improved connectedness of YAP youth to their schools, including increased attendance
  3. greater efforts to secure employment
  4. a statistically significant and large decrease in the youth's most serious disposition

More information and a 4-page summary of the study is available on our website. Or, read the full 139-page study on the OJJDP website.

For questions or more information about this study, please contact Martin D’Urso, Chief of Legal Affairs, at mdurso@yapinc.org.
YAP Earns 3rd Reaccreditation from COA
YAP is excited to announce that we have once again been reaccredited by COA, the Council on Accreditation. The reaccreditation process involved a detailed review and analysis of our operations and service delivery practices and our performance was “measured” against national standards of best practice. 

We are very proud of this achievement, which recognizes YAP as a provider that continues to successfully implement high performance standards and, as such, is delivering the highest quality services to all of its stakeholders. 

The 2017 reaccreditation recognizes our performance in the following service areas:
  • Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
  • Family Preservation & Stabilization Services
  • Juvenile Justice Case Management
  • Services for Mental Health Disorders
  • Workforce Development Services
  • Youth Development Services
The "Beloved Community": Illustrating the YAP Model
The hallmark of the YAP approach to working with young people and families is our unique YAPWrap model. We often describe it as wrapping positive supports around young people and families while helping families to meet needs and build strengths across life domains through community-based "Advocates," people from the same community who have shared attributes, experiences and cultures with the kids and families in our programs. 
Along with Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon, the Chief Administrative Judge at Lucas County Juvenile Court, YAP gave a presentation at the Root Causes Coalition Conference in Louisville. The focus of the presentation was two-fold: first, it highlighted the court's positive youth development approach and use of an assessment center, both of which allowed it to reduce youth incarceration; and YAP talked about how our model addresses the social determinants of health in a community-setting, with a focus on the family and centered around the young person. 
Representing YAP was Shaena Fazal, our National Policy Director, Yinethia Brown-Robinson, Program Director for Lousiville YAP and Agnes Kolbeck, Program Director for Lexington YAP. But the person who stole the show was Jeremiah, a 17-year old young person in our Lousiville Program. 
When people who support him learned he would be sharing his story at this conference, one by one they showed up to support him. In attendance was his mother, his grandmother, his aunt, his two brothers, his school principal and assistant principal, his football coach, several school counselors and of course his YAP Advocate. 
They represented a living, breathing illustration of what YAPWrap means; it was an example of what Dr. King envisioned in a "beloved community." With this support, Jeremiah shared that his GPA went from 0.8 to 3.5. Further, he is a talented football player and has met several former NFL players who are providing guidance and information about that profession. He is currently working on applying to college. He also shared that what motivated him to change was to be a better example to his two younger brothers. 
We are so grateful to Jeremiah for sharing his story with all of us and to all of his team for showing up in solidarity!

October is Youth Justice Action Month
YJAM is a time when people across the country organize events that raise awareness, strengthen coalitions, build campaigns, and encourage action to keep children out of the adult criminal justice system. 2017 YJAM is focusing on the arts and how creative expression can inspire action.

YAP Contribute to Cost Savings for Lebanon County (PA)
Lebanon County PA Juvenile Probation saved $400,000 during the past fiscal year and increased community safety through a partnership with Youth Advocate Programs. YAP's community-based treatment services are cheaper than residential placement. Read More
Dauphin County (PA) YAP hosted its 9th annual Peace Street in Harrisburg. Families, community partners and representatives from the city lined the streets in front of the YAP Family Clinic. This annual event was initiated in response to increased violence in the city with the goal of engaging youth and families in thoughts and actions that contribute toward rebuilding strong and peaceful communities. 
Youth from YAP Middlesex County (NJ) participated in the creation of a Health Relationships mural in the city of New Brunswick. Before working on the mural, youth engaged in a workshop provided by our partners from the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Community Health Promotion Program. As part of the workshop, youth were asked to define what love is. 
New Supports for Children of Parents with Substance Use Issues
YAP is launching our Child Welfare Substance Use model in Colorado to help prevent placement or reunify kids who are in placement due to issues associated with parental addictions. Expanding our partnership with Denver's Department of Human Services (DHS), parents who are currently in outpatient treatment or returning to community from inpatient treatment will be matched with Recovery Advocates- individuals from their community with a prior history of substance abuse and specialized training- who will help them to meet their goals through intensive, flexible, in-home services. YAP's services will help support parental success with treatment and aftercare plans, as well as support in other key areas, including but not limited to parenting skills, housing, household management, health, safety, transportation and others as needed.

Trauma, Opiates and Child Welfare: How Agencies Can Do Better
In this piece, author Nico'Lee Rohac details her experience as a child of parents with mental health and substance use issues, and provides concrete suggestions for how the child welfare system could improve to better meet the needs of both kids and parents.

From a Traumatic Childhood to Imprisoned, Addicted Adulthood
This New York Times article talks about trauma and how it often impacts a person's life trajectory with both a video and print article. Our growing understanding of trauma and its impact on our brain development challenges us to rethink how we work with adults. "In a justice system built upon the idea of choice and personal responsibility, experts say the path to trouble may begin long before an individual has any say in the matter. What happens to people in childhood can make a difference in whether they end up in a prison cell, or whether they are even wired to make rational decisions."
Randall Sims, YAP's Regional Director for Philadelphia programs was recognized at Echoes of Africa's Annual Youth Awareness Day.

The theme of the event was "African Diaspora Youth - Emerging from the Maze" and Randall was honored for his contributions to creating opportunities for these youth, and supporting and advancing their goals.
 Many YAP kids and families in East Texas and Louisiana are suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Thanks to your support, the Harris County (TX) YAP program was able to assist 7 staff and 40 kids and families in need. The need IN Houston and surrounding areas continues, and we are still accepting donations .

Very special thanks to all of the local YAP staff who worked tirelessly in spite of their own challenges to make sure that our kids and families were okay.
Where We Work
YAP serves over 11,000 families a year in more than 100 programs across 22 states and the District of Columbia in rural, suburban and urban areas. 

We recently opened two programs in Kentucky, in Lexington and Louisville.
Scholarship Winner
Kamillah is a college freshman at Houston Community College pursuing a degree in Social Work and Education. When her mother signed her up for the Harris County (TX) YAP YES Waiver Program in 2016 to address behavioral and anger issues, she was struggling. She was matched with an Advocate who helped her see that her future held "endless possibilities." Kamillah's life has been transformed and she now has plans to transform the lives of other youth in her community. 

Read more about Kamillah's story and other award winners of the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education on our website
Adams County (PA) held a ribbon cutting ceremony this past July to celebrate their new location in Gettysburg. The new office includes space for The Center for Future Economic Opportunity, which will offer YAP's innovative YAPWORX experience to local youth and serve as the incubator for refining and expanding these efforts nationally.
Advocates from YAP's program in the Roanoke Valley (VA) dedicated a Saturday to cleaning up Eureka Park, an important a local recreation area in their community.

They assisted with landscaping, trash pickup, and beautification.
Pittverse Magazine
YAP is excited to share The Pittverse, a quarterly magazine written, edited and published by adults with Autism. The magazine has been funded by the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust for the past 3 years, and has helped many adult on the autism spectrum to realize their skills and talents, gain employment skills, and open opportunity for gainful employment.

YAP hosts a special event prior to the release of each edition that includes the magazine’s staff, their family and friends, YAP staff, and other people from the community. It’s an opportunity for the magazine team to talk about their written pieces, share their thoughts and talents, and continue to make connections with others throughout their community.

Among the attendees as the July release party was local Pittsburgh news station KDKA, who filmed a news segment about the magazine and its writers.
Indianapolis YAP Director Gabriel Grady knows how important it is to give youth a voice. When the Indianapolis Black Congressional Forum reached out looking for participants, Gabriel nominated Elijah, a YAP youth who has demonstrated success overcoming barriers and providing solutions in his own neighborhood. As a part of the congressional caucus, Elijah represents the voices and concerns of his fellow citizens, and works toward the Forum's ultimate goal of reducing incarceration and recidivism. 
Harris County (TX) YAP provided a “Back to School Bash” for their local community. Youth gained knowledge on conflict resolution for the school year, alcohol prevention, positive affirmations, social skills, and anxiety management techniques. Advocates engaged their young people in various activities and really supported the excitement of starting another school year. Additionally, they were able to provide youth in need with donated clothing, accessories, and school supplies. 
System-Wide Collaboration to Reach Teens in Tarrant County (TX)
Santa Fe Youth Services, led by YAP Vice President Virginia Hoft, is part of a system-wide collaboration in Tarrant County focused on increasing resilience and improving outcomes for youth. This op-ed talks about the Reaching Teens program, developed by Dr. Ken Ginsberg and implemented by Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County. 

Ginsberg said in his report on the 3-year program, "The most important ingredient youth need to thrive are adults who care about them deeply and who hold them to high expectations… I could not be more genuine when I tell you that Mental Health Connection is a model for the nation."

Collaboration between diverse but like-minded entities targeting one overarching goal, to better support and care for our youth, is what YAP desires for all communities.

The Intersection between Gun Violence and Mental Health: Chicago
This PBS feature addresses how increased gun violence traumatizes many more people than the victim and his or her family and friends. "Every time a person gets shot, especially a young person, there are literally hundreds of people who are affected by that shooting," says Brad Stolbach of Healing Hurt People-Chicago.
YAP and Chicago's Children's Home and Aid Society are helping youth, families and communities who have experienced trauma. Through funding from Get In Chicago and the MacArthur Foundation, the "Choose to Change" program has provided Advocate support and trauma intervention to over 400 youth from Englewood and is part of a randomized research study through the University of Chicago's Crime Lab.
YAP Film: Safely Home
"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.  
Using Technology to Gain Skills and Support Social Change
Thirty Lebanon County youth are in the midst of a 3-month long project called "CyberWorx," to explore technology careers while serving as vehicles for social change. CyberWorx is an initiative that is part of the YAPWorx system.

Youth have been grouped into 12 teams, each of which includes Lebanon Valley College (LVC) seniors who are majoring in Social and Criminal Justice, YAP Advocates and Opportunity Advisors from the technology field. Each team will design a project and begin meeting with Opportunity Advisors from different labor market fields to develop and build the concept. At the end of the semester, each team will present their project and Opportunity Advisors will vote on the winner. The winning teams will be awarded prizes, including a trip to DC for the grand prize to meet with local legislators, tour the city and attend a professional basketball game.
A team of Texas YAP Leaders participated in the "Engage and Excel Conference," hosted by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. The conference was for community leaders, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and stakeholders from across Texas who are engaged in improving their local behavioral health systems. Participants come together to share best practices, inspire collaboration, and learn from each other.
West Virginia Counseling and Advocacy (WVCA) held an open house to introduce the West Virginia community to YAP's new location in Martinsburg. The new office is centrally located in historic downtown, making it more accessible to youth and families who need to ride the bus or walk to their appointment. The event included a hot dog roast and meet and greet with WVCA staff. Additionally, back-to-school items were donated for and distributed to youth in need. 
YAP Leaders Urge Policymakers to Do More for People Living With Mental Illness and Addictions
YAP's National Director of Behavioral Health Jennifer Drake, Vice President Jessica Carlton (PA-OH), and Vice President Lynette Connor (NJ) joined hundreds of other behavioral health providers in Washington, D.C. at the National Council's Hill Day.

Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Grow
The Sentencing Project has released a series of fact sheets highlighting the outrageous disparities in incarceration rates for youth of color. These excellent resources on African American youth , Latino youth, and Native youth provide information on how each state is doing regarding racial and ethnic disparities.

YAP's Place in the Changing Virginia Juvenile Justice System
Valerie Koeppel, Regional Director of YAP's programs in VA and WV, speaks about Virginia's changing juvenile justice system: "Prisons don't work... We want to move to a system that we know does work and that's supporting kids and their families in their own communities."
YAP participated in the 4th Annual Silver and Gold Pageant near Dallas, TX. The contestants ranged in age from 6-60+, and showcased their talents of singing, dancing and poetry. The theme of the pageant was “Speak On It” highlighting Bullying Awareness and Suicide Prevention. YAP Program Director Tiffany Lindley was the guest speaker and discussed recognizing bullying behavior, addressing suicidal ideation, intervening when a youth is being bullied and preventing bullying in school and communities. 
Two youth from YAP's program in Essex County, NY visited Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue along with their Advocate to "volunteer, be empowered, and have some fun."
YAP Team Presents Symposium at South Africa's Pathways to Resilience Conference
YAP's four presentations at this prestigious event looked at building resilience among high risk youth populations through both community-based and cross cultural interventions. First, the components, implementation, and outcomes of a strength-based service model that creates family and community supports were described. Second, the team addressed the successes and challenges of the international adaptions of this service model. A third paper explored the world-wide youth advocacy opportunities of the Latin American born Street Soccer Movement in building resilience. The final workshop looked at the systemic integration of restorative justice initiatives to help youth offenders, and the people and communities they impact, heal and grow stronger. The title of the symposium was "Creative Community and Global Collaborations to Nurture Marginalized Youth," and was presented by Dorienne Silva, Seamus Mannion, Diana Matteson and Caroline Petrilla.

Swedish Delegation Visits the US
In October, Charlotte Lagerkvist, Jennifer Gavin, Katarina Kasto and Tor Lofgren traveled from the Botkyrka municipality of Stockholm to have exchanges with YAP staff, young people and stakeholders in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Our Swedish guests shared updates on Botkyrka YAP, visited programs, reviewed PQI, discussed external US and Sweden YAP evaluations, attended training and developed a blueprint for launching the YAP Recovery Model with adults in Botkyrka. Charlotte who manages YAP in Botkyrka described the time together as "an exceptionally inspiring week. All the things we've seen, all the people we met and all the productive conversations we've had-we are so happy to 'belong' to the YAP family." The YAP international team thanks everyone involved for giving the Swedish delegation such a warm welcome!