Youth Justice | Child Welfare | Education | ASD/ID/DD | Behavioral Health | Workforce | International
YAP Strengthening Support For Families
Affected by Trauma
Most families YAP supports have experienced trauma and/or toxic stress. In recognition of that fact and commitment, the National Council for Behavioral Health selected YAP to participate in its newest Trauma-Informed Care Learning Community . The effort focuses not only on trauma, but also on resilience, and blends two in-person meetings with coaching calls, webinars and access to other resources. YAP will complete an Organizational Assessment across the Seven Domains of Trauma Informed Care that will help us develop a plan to move forward with organizational changes that will help us to support our families and our staff by creating relationships and environments based on awareness, trust, empowerment and safety.
At-Promise: YAP Introduces NEW Program Model for Transition Age Youth
For system-involved young people aged 18-25, YAP is shifting the lens from "at-risk" to "at-promise" in a new program model that blends our traditional wraparound, mentoring approach with new research on the developmental period of emerging adulthood and brain development and best practices from the Harvard University Center for Child Development and Full Frame Initiative. The approach focuses on helping young people develop core capabilities across life critical life domains, with an emphasis on housing stability, safety, education, employment, access to relevant resources and social connectedness. Currently, over 35 percent of YAP's young people are aged 18-25. More information about our approach is available on our website.
New Program In Harrisburg, PA Aims to Keep Moderate to High Risk Youth in Community
It began with a vision: Dauphin County Director of Juvenile Services Chad Libby wanted a program that would help prevent the unnecessary placement of moderate to high risk youth. Months later, the YAP Community Treatment Center (CTC) is working with 15 young people as a community based alternative to placement.

The program pairs a therapist and Advocates with young people in a number of interventions designed to meet their needs and build their strengths and interests. Example of formal interventions include individual and family therapy, case management support to families, Peace Circles, Aggression-Replacement Training (ART), and YAPWORX. YAPWORX is YAP's innovative workforce development approach that builds youth understanding of the world of work through connecting them directly with employed individuals from labor markets of interest through service-learning activities.

Many of the youth entering the program have mental health challenges and/or have experienced significant trauma. The CTC provides therapeutic support and safety planning through the onsite therapist, and refers youth as needed to YAP's Dauphin County Clinic for more intensive, ongoing support. Youth attend the program six days a week, for approximately 30 hours a week for an average of six months.

YAP Regional Director Op-Ed to VA: "Invest in Communities, not Youth Prisons"
Southeast Regional Director Valerie Koeppel, a resident of Virginia who has worked with justice-involved youth for over 15 years, wrote this Op-Ed featured in the Roanoke Times advocating for more investments in community-based programs that meet the needs of youth instead of building new youth prisons.

NEW Policy Brief to Serve High Risk Justice Involved Youth of Color from the Community
Youth of color are over-represented at nearly every point in the juvenile justice system. Led by Impact Justice, the EBP+ Collaborative, a consortium of 12 organizations including YAP that specialize in serving youth of color with serious and violent charges, released a new policy brief:  "Liberating Youth, Families and Community from the Justice System." The purpose of the brief is to share the best practice and collective approach of these organizations to helping these youth succeed in community settings as an alternative to incarceration.

VICE Documentary Featured Toledo, OH Juvenile Court for Successful Reforms
Lucas County Juvenile Court was highlighted for implementing reforms that have resulted in reducing the number of youth in placement through increasing the continuum of community services available in the VICE special documentary, "Raised in the System." Support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Justice Strategy Group and community partners like YAP have contributed to the county's success. The Chronicle of Social Change interviewed Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon about her leadership in this effort.
YAP prides ourselves on the dedication, commitment and passion our Team has for our families and the work we do. We'd like to recognize and thank Donnell Hayden, who has been with YAP for 20 years and works at Dallas County Advocate Program in Texas. Outside of YAP, he has coached the GI Soldiers team for 24 years.
Board Member Randolph Stone, University of Chicago Clinical Professor of Law, received the Hemen Sweatt Award by the National Bar Association. The prize, which was presented on April 20, honors “trailblazers in the legal profession who exemplify the spirit of civil rights activist Heman Marion Sweatt.”
Partnering to Help Parents with Addictions in St. Lawrence County
YAP National Director of Substance Use Services Virginia Hoft provided training to local YAP and Department of Social Services staff on how addiction affects the brain and how treatment can help. YAP works with families involved with DSS through our services, including a 0-5 Reunification Program. The training was requested in response to a growing population of children in their system whose parents struggle with addiction. Both agencies are committed to improving understanding and supports to these families. YAP will be implementing our Child Welfare Recovery Advocate model to help those families whose substance use is placing their children at risk of placement or who are being reunified with their children after completing drug treatment.

YAP Contributing to Youth Advisory Network in New Jersey
YAP is excited to be part of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Youth Advisory Network (YAN). The YAN was created in an attempt to intentionally engage young people served by DCF in helping to improve the system, as well as to develop leadership and advocacy skills. YAP Staff Melissa Ortiz and Stephanie Guzman are the YAN Coordinators in Region 2, which includes Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Somerset counties.

New Study Supports Keeping Kids Home with Parents with Addictions
A new study in the Children and Youth Service Review found no significant difference in measures of well-being between children whose parents had addictions and children whose parents did not. The sample included youth aged 6-12 investigated for maltreatment and followed them for three years.

Youth in Foster Care More Vulnerable to Sex Trafficking
This article in Reuters exposes the increased vulnerability youth in the foster care system have to being preyed upon by sex traffickers. YAP has a service model specially designed to meet the trauma, health and safety needs of these youth from within the community. Interventions such as "My Life, My Choice," mentioned in the article to fight exploitation, is used by YAP, along with "Ending the Game" to help our young people who have been sexually exploited leave the life. For more information, check out our website.
Dr. Alexis Kennedy was named the winner of the University of Nevada Las Vegas' 2018 Community-Based Research Award for her work amplifying the voices of those who have been sexually trafficked to help shape policy. Through a grant funded by the Department of Justice, she served as principal investigator on the survivor-focused research project, interviewing dozens of victims of human trafficking. “They are the true content experts in this area but are rarely asked their opinions,” Kennedy said. “Sharing their experiences will shape programs across the U.S. Their strength is amazing, and I am honored to be able to give them a voice.”
 Six years ago, Shaneka Bynum (pictured center) started at the Roanoke Valley, VA YAP office as a Advocate, YAP's core frontline staff who work directly with families. Today, as Director of the program, she is still an advocate, engaging in ongoing community outreach to collaborate with other stakeholders on behalf of YAP families. She recently participated in a Community Conversation hosted by Joe Cobb, now Vice Mayor, to talk about needs in the community, particularly around youth, and how each is helping to meet needs and strengthen families. Shaneka is also part of the Community Solutions Center for Feeding Southwest VA and the Trauma Informed Network in Roanoke Valley.
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
Mary is a mother of two sons, including one who receives YAP's Behavioral Health services. For almost ten years, she enjoyed being a stay at home Mom until confronted by financial strains. Mary found herself working at various minimum wage jobs, without the skills or credentials she needed to land a job that was sustaining of a living wage.

After learning that her local community college offered veterinarian technician programming, Mary decided to pursue her long-deferred dream of working with animals . S he wrote that if awarded a scholarship she felt that she “could make a significant contribution to veterinary care and be a role model to other stay at home moms, demonstrating that it's never too late to live one's dreams.” Congratulations and best wishes to Mary!

Read more about Mary's story and other award winners of the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education on our website
Next Thursday, May 24th, YAP's Policy and Advocacy Center will be testifying at a public hearing hosted by the Juvenile Law Center and City Council member Helen Gym promoting effective, safe community-based alternatives to institutional placement for Philadelphia youth. The Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Gray will also be in attendance. Follow on Twitter using the hashtag.
A team of YAP staff from our NYC program presented at the Pinkerton Foundation 's Symposium on Youth Justice hosted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice . YAP highlighted the importance of supporting youth's economic mobility and future opportunities, illustrating YAPWORX as one effective strategy, particularly for youth who do not do well in traditional workforce development programs.
Activities Supporting April's Autism Awareness Month
YAP programs around the country organized special activities and events in support of autism awareness and acceptance. Many youth offices participated in walks and fundraisers.

Some programs engaged in outreach with local emergency responders . In Harrisburg, PA, the local team facilitated an opportunity for individuals on the Autism spectrum and their families to interact with local emergency responders, which included Harrisburg River Rescue, Highspire Fire Department, LifeTeam EMS, & Harrisburg City Police Department. The day included sensory-friendly activities throughout as well as short demonstrations by each department. The aim was to help reduce anxiety associated with the experience one might have interacting with emergency responders, as well as to provide an educational component for these community professionals.

A number of programs hosted screenings of the YAP Documentary "The Rain Man Effect" which explores the negative impact the 1988 film starring Dustin Hoffman has had on meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with Autism. The 75 minute documentary written, produced and starring individuals with lived experience, was funded through a grant by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. Following each screening with a Q&A Panel to debrief and further educate and share accurate information about Autism. The film was initially shared at the 2017 TASH Conference.
Y AP was proud to participate in the National Association on Councils for Developmental Disabilities Awareness month in March 2018 . The "SEE ME FOR ME" campaign promoted looking beyond someone’s disability and seeing them as a person and not just a person with a disability. Above is a picture of Ryan Leppo and some of his team, which includes his employer. Ryan received the male Employee of the Year Award at the annual “Work With Us” Banquet on October 19 2017. Ryan was chosen for this award by demonstrating outstanding work ethic. Read more about Ryan's employment journey.
YAP is proud of Aida, a young woman in our Developmental Disabilities program who will be starting at Butler County Community College this fall. Aida receives home and community support services to expand her positive connections to people, places and activities in her community based on her interests. YAP plans to support her at college through Education Support Services. Aida’s long-term goal is to become an Assistant Teacher for Early Education and Kindergarten classes. Aida would like to volunteer at her local library’s after school program and at a Headstart preschool program. Aida has completed her clearances and application for this process.
Central PA Programs Receive Award
On March 13, 2018, YAP was selected as the Mental Healthcare Giver of the year by Central Penn Parent's 11th Annual Healthcare Heroes awards program . The Central PA programs recognized include York, Adams, Tri-County (Dauphin/Cumberland/Perry), Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. The award recognizes excellence, promotes innovation and honors the efforts of individuals and organizations making significant positive impacts on the quality of health care in Central Pennsylvania.

New Peer Specialists Program in West Virginia
YAP's new program in the panhandle of West Virginia is a Peer Recovery Program funded by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The Peer Recovery Coach will be trained and certified through the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery to initiate and sustain individuals in recovery from opioid use disorders and or co-occurring behavioral health disorders. The Peer Recovery Coach will promote recovery by acting as a guide/mentor for overcoming personal and environmental obstacles that jeopardize their recovery. The target population will be individuals with criminal background that are either recently being released from jail, or those that are referred by court systems, probation officers etc.  
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.  
Baltimore Youth's Passionate Appeal to Recruit More Workforce Volunteers
A young person in YAP's Baltimore program has found a passion: recruiting volunteers from the work community to guide youth in his city. This young person was born and raised in Baltimore City and knows better than most the adversities that youth face in charting a course that leads to real future economic opportunities. As someone who is struggling with navigating the barriers he is committed to recruiting others to invest in him and other young people like him.

He is campaigning to recruit more "Opportunity Advisors," or employees from different labor markets who volunteer to spend 15 minutes with YAP youth and their Advocate answering questions that the youth are prepared to ask about the workplace. Questions vary widely across a series of topics in the YAPWORX curriculum, including but not limited to the type of skills, credentials or education needed to obtain the job, drug testing, social media checks , how to handle conflict in the workplace, and more. Youth leave these interviews and engage in a follow up project on what they learned that is shared with other youth in the program. Youth also share their service-learning project with the Opportunity Advisor, who has added to that young person's social capital and connection to the workforce.

If you are employed and live in Baltimore and would like more information, please contact RaEmma Hill at To learn more about YAPWORX, click here.
Chicago Advocate Lanita Reed received Get IN Chicago's STAR Award , a recognition of her tireless commitment to youth in her community. Lanita's work at YAP is funded by a grant through Get In Chicago , and focused on supporting youth who are identified as chronically absent more engaged and connected with school. YAP's work in this program has resulted in increased attendance for 95% of youth participating in the program. Congratulations to Lanita!
YAP Delaware Program Director Ian Smith (second from left) and National Policy Director Shaena Fazal (far right) spent a week visiting our sister program in Sierra Leone, where we help to support a program that has sought to provide support to youth who were separated from their families during the country's civil war. Staff visited with youth and families served in a few communities, and were engaged in mutual sharing of practices, challenges, and vision with the Sierra Leone Team.
Happy Anniversary, Botkyrka YAP!
The YAP Program in Sweden served its first client on May 13, 2015. Since working with youth at risk for out of home placement, the program has expanded to working with parents as the identified service user and in April launched its YAP Recovery Advocate Program to work with adults with substance use issues.

Pictured: Botkryka YAP Staff and YAP Training Team Virginia Hoft and Estrella Griggs
YAP Advocate James Schuler received the Wayne County, New York Martin Luther King Citizen of the Year Award in February for his "tireless work" with justice involved youth in that county. James has been an Advocate at YAP for six years.
YAP's Lancaster County, PA Program recently received the "Outstanding Programming" Award from the Emerald Foundation. The Lancaster Program provides services to families in the juvenile justice, behavioral health and developmental disability systems.