The U.S. Child welfare system has been historically punitive by design, treating youth and their families as criminals and disregarding how social and economic conditions and racial inequities impact behavioral health; 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 individually and as parents. The child welfare system has historically 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 related to systemic discrimination and implicit bias.
More recently, laws have provided 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.
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 to establish and pursue positive goals in the face of economic and social challenges. We help program participants 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.