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 was completed by Dr. Michael J. Karcher, Ed.D., Ph.D, of the University of Texas, San Antonio and co-written by Dr. David Johnson, Ph.D. of Wake Forest University and was comprised of two parts.
The first part of the study used a quasi-experimental research method to examine the impact of YAP Advocacy model for 164 young people in YAP juvenile justice programs in Camden, NJ, Las Vegas, NV, Lebanon, PA and Toledo, OH and compared their outcomes to youth who had not received YAP services. The study resulted in four major findings, including that involvement in YAP resulted in:
- improved connectedness of YAP youth to their teachers;
- improved connectedness of YAP youth to their schools, including increased attendance;
- greater efforts to secure employment; and
- a statistically significant and large decrease in the youth's self-reported misconduct as well as their most serious disposition.
The second part of the study reviewed 100 surveys completed by youth and YAP advocate pairs to examine how the advocate-youth relationship affected misconducts, concluding that that YAP’s relationship-based advocate model had a positive impact in declining misconduct.
According to the study, from the time young people received YAP services up until 12 months after leaving YAP, “the severity of YAP youths’ disposition (status offense, misdemeanor, felony) was lower, their school participation (e.g., attendance) was higher, and they reported more effort to secure employment than untreated youth of the same age who had not yet begun YAP.”
The study builds upon existing evidence of the YAP model’s success in keeping justice-involved young people out of institutional placement and safely home in their communities. Jeff Fleischer, CEO of Youth Advocate Programs said “the study confirms what our practice has taught us -- strong relationships with a caring adult increase justice-involved young people’s connectedness to their communities which leads to positive youth outcomes, including increased public safety.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.