The U.S. Child welfare system is historically punitive by design, treating families as criminals instead of recognizing the social and economic conditions that impact them; it has been a system that “rescued” children whose parents were deemed to be failing them instead of recognizing the conditions parents faced and working with them and giving them tools to become healthier and enhance their wellbeing. The child welfare system has disproportionately divided families experiencing poverty, who disproportionately have been people of color. Numerous studies find that the overrepresentation of children of color in the child welfare system is due to systemic discrimination and implicit bias.
More recent laws provide opportunities at a structural level to mitigate the negative impact of the system on many youth and families: The Families First Prevention Services Act is significant in incentivizing family cohesion and support, as family members are eligible for financial support via foster care benefits when they take in a child who is a relative.
YAP delivers individualized direct services to child welfare system-involved youth and families, focusing on safety, permanency, and wellbeing. We empower families by building on their strengths and connecting them to accessible tools and resources they need to overcome economic and social challenges, help them navigate complicated systems, and most important, develop positive connections within the family and in the community that they identify as being critical for long-term success.