Driven By Mission, Defined By Excellence
True to its original mission, YAP remains dedicated exclusively to community-based alternatives to institutionalization, incarceration and other out-of-home placements. We do not operate any out-of-home care programs-no shelters, no foster homes and no residential facilities.
But with experience, adaptation and refinement, the YAP model now successfully serves a much broader population with a variety of program types including those in child welfare, in behavioral health, in schools, within developmental disabilities, in autism support, as gang intervention, and with adult offender re-entry.
Unique Service Model
Some of the features which make YAP unique are as follows:
Unique Funding Strategies
- We serve the most challenging youth: YAP has a rich history in providing services and supports to repeat offenders, chronic truants, gang-involved youth, youth involved in the child welfare system and youth with mental health challenges.
- We maintain a "no reject/no eject" policy: No one is ever refused service or discharged from service due to their previous history or reluctance to engage in the program. We employ the same standards of inclusion for all of our programs and for all of our service populations.
- We build strong and important relationships with youth: Youth are referred to YAP when they are experiencing major difficulties in their family life, in school and in their community. They may be on the verge of entering or returning from a restrictive out-of-home placement. They may be suspended from school, displaying illegal or violent behavior or abusing drugs or alcohol. The YAP advocate serves as a mentor for the youth through all these situations, building a sustainable trusting relationship that positively impacts on attitudes, behaviors and outcomes.
- We follow a same zip-code staff recruitment strategy: Every young person is matched with a trained and supportive adult role model from their neighborhood/community of residence. This strategy enhances the development of a productive relationship between staff and youth and encourages local community involvement in the program.
- We incorporate cultural competence as a core service principle: Cultural competence is embedded in YAP's approach to staffing, service delivery and resource development. Hired from the communities they serve, staff members know the strengths and needs of the community and reflect the ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of their service area.
- We provide intensive services designed to keep kids and communities safe: Advocates work evening and weekends, including providing 24/7 crisis intervention. Services up to 30 hours per week can be provided based on needs for supervision, structure and support, diverting youth from out-of-home placement. Advocates also ensure that a youth's legal obligations to probation, parole or other referring entities are met.
- We partner with youth and families to devise flexible, individualized interventions built on unique strengths and needs and based on wraparound principles and strategies: When we first meet a family, we ask four basic questions in order to ensure that youth and families are provided with access, voice and ownership of their service plan: (1) What do you need? (2) How can we help? (3) How can we work together as equal partners? (4) How can you help?
- We build engaged and sustainable family teams: We identify community members and professionals to serve as team members for families in trouble. This ensures that services occur within the community and neighborhoods in which our families reside and that these supports continue long after the YAP service period.
- We enhance wraparound processes with our community advocates: Advocates catalyze the family team, helping all members to assist the youth and family member in reducing risky behaviors and increasing skills, competencies and connections. Experts cite the availability of advocacy services as an essential feature of successful wraparound plans for high-risk youth.
- We provide supported work opportunities for youth who have few marketable skills or are unable to work independently: Difficult to employ youth are able to work for local businesses through the provision of subsidized wages. These funds are built into our program budgets. While working, youth are provided with opportunities to build skills and experiences with the support and supervision of the advocate. Supported work also offers youth a chance to meet positive adult role models and can remove kids from the underground illegal economy. Employers are encouraged to hire the youth after the initial training period.
Unique Systems Approach
- We provide cost effective services: We provide services to youth and to adults who would otherwise be incarcerated or placed in residential facilities at a far greater cost to the taxpayer.
- We operate a flexible model that permits rapid service level changes: We can readily "step-up" or "step-down" services depending upon client circumstances; we can start, end or vary intensity of services based totally on client and family need. Our program start up requires minimal investment.
- We invest in local communities: We hire locally, support local businesses through supported work, create leadership positions for alumni and enhance local non-profits by mandating community service provision from all youth receiving service.
- We build new resources in support of high-risk youth: YAP identifies service gaps in communities. Then, we use our flexible funds to invest in new programming to meet unmet service needs. In rural areas, we have used this strategy to work with general practitioner physicians working with out-of-town psychiatrists to meet the medication management needs for youth returning to community from psychiatric facilities. In urban areas, we are developing partnerships with local businesses to recruit and train volunteer mentors to work closely with referred youth so that youth have the support they need post discharge.
- We are more than a provider of service: We have a documented ability to recruit and energize local resident leaders in neighborhoods. This "resident engagement" strategy creates new jobs for community members looking to "give-back" or change careers, to assist youth in need. Many of these individuals employed by YAP are bypassed by more traditional agencies. These strategies enable us to be an "economic stimulus" in the neighborhoods we enter.
- We actively work with youth and families to change systems: We have an agency-wide initiative entitled YAP VOICE (Vocalize, Organize, Inform, Collaborate, and Empower) that seeks to assist and support our young people, their families and staff in improving human service systems in their neighborhood, their states and their nation. The overriding goal of YAP VOICE is to encourage and help systems to rely less on institutional care and rely more on supporting families, neighborhoods and communities. We provide youth with opportunities to learn about government structure, policies and issues that affect them. We help youth and families to appropriately communicate with policy makers about their needs and promote solutions.