May 2016 - In This Issue:
Where We Work


YAP serves over 13,000 families a year in more than 100 programs across 19 states in rural, suburban and urban areas. 

I Am That Girl Campaign
Check out the I AM THAT GIRL campaign, which seeks to address the emotional, mental and physical well-being of girls.   

Children Need to Be With Families
This TED TALK by YAP friend John VanDenBerg highlights the importance of keeping children with their families.  


Stay tuned:  In our next newsletter, we will be sharing our just-released Annual Report.  
YAP Film


"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.  
Scholarship Winners
Congratulations to Morgan and Bethanie Fern, two sisters from Pennsylvania who were awarded scholarships from the TOM JEFFERS ENDOWMENT FUND FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION.  

This year's scholarship award is the second award for Morgan.  She completed her first year at Millersville University and plans to continue her education in the fall at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) - Lebanon campus.  Her career goal is to work with pre-school aged children.  

Bethanie is presently completing her junior year at Mansfield University, majoring in social work, with a criminal justice administration minor.  She states, "Without YAP I would never have gotten to see the amazing things advocacy can do and would have never chosen the field I am in now.  For everything they did and currently do, I am eternally grateful."

The Tom Jeffers Fund for Continuing Education is funded primarily through weekly employee donations. Any former YAP involved youth who have completed high school or a GED program are eligible and encouraged to apply annually to offset the cost of their post-secondary educational or training programs.  
National Council for Behavioral Health Infographics
Teen Warning Signs

Seven Super Skills to Help a Friend

Women's Mental Health

Prevalence of Mental Health Conditions
1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime.
Approximately two-thirds of justice-involved youth have a mental health condition
Up to 80% of child welfare-involved youth have serious emotional and behavioral issues
May is Mental Health Awareness Month 
One in five Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime. Taking a closer look, it has been found that prevalence of a mental health condition is much higher within certain segments of the US population. 

Approximately 2/3 OF JUSTICE-INVOLVED YOUTH have a diagnosable mental health or substance use disorder. That number is even higher for youth involved in the child-welfare system:  research suggests that UP TO 80% have serious emotional and behavioral problems.

The disproportionality of mental health issues for youth in these systems intersects with the over-representation of black and brown youth within them, and extends to the general disproportionality of mental health issues in communities of color.  For example, the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reported that AFRICAN AMERICANS ARE 20% MORE LIKELY to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.

Perhaps the common denominator among all of these populations
is vulnerability due to unmet needs and economic and social barriers.  Poverty, exposure to violence and other traumas, homelessness and out of home placements are but a few of the stressors that place individuals at higher risk of developing mental health disorders.  Working from that premise, mental health disorders may be preventable, and as we know, are treatable.  Any truly effective efforts at prevention and intervention must look not only at the individual, but also at the environment to create conditions that strip away the barriers that aggravate mental health disorders. 

Clearly, mental health awareness is important to YAP.  Annually, YAP programs across the country work with over 13,000 youth and families involved in the mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice systems and approximately 70% of our families are of color.

As part of May Mental Health Awareness Month, YAP youth and staff volunteered to share their personal experiences to increase awareness and spotlight how interventions can make a difference.  The two individuals include a YOUTH FROM WV who writes about coping with her brother's suicide and a STAFF PERSON FROM TX who shares what it's like to live with Bipolar Disorder.
Girls and the Juvenile Justice System
Girls represent approximately one-third of youth arrested, and their involvement in the justice system has increased in recent decades.  Most are youth of color, come from poverty and are victims of violence.  It has been found that their involvement with the system "has usually done more harm than good." In recognition that girls' needs must specifically be addressed in a developmentally appropriate manner, the OJJDP produced THIS POLICY GUIDE as a resource for jurisdictions seeking to improve their responses to girls in their system.    
Lebanon County PA Greenhouse
On May 4, Lebanon County PA YAP had a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new greenhouse. YAP GreenWorks provides the addition of 1000 square-foot commercial greenhouse to our gardening initiatives already in place for the past 10 years and extends the growing season for all four seasons. YAP participants operate the greenhouse and over 30 program participants have spent 400 hours of meaningful work experience and community service in its construction.

Chicago Regenerations Project
In partnership with Lutheran Child and Family Services, Chicago YAP is helping dual-status youth detained in juvenile detention to return to their community. The project, called the Regenerations Program, has seen notable success in its first 6 months, reducing both the number of dual- status youth in detention and the length of time in custody.

"The use of juvenile detention solely because the youth does not have a placement is inappropriate and damaging to the youth."

The Prevalence of Parental Incarceration
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) reports that more than 5 million U.S. children have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their lives.  The incarceration of a parent can have devastating effects on a child's emotional, social, and economic well-being.

Their report, A SHARED SENTENCE, examines the statistics around this issue and offers recommendations for supporting the children left behind.  
Children Need Both Education and Families
Children in the foster care system need what all kids need:  a quality home, access to good education and (mental) healthcare. Yet for too many of these vulnerable youth, the system in place fails to provide this vulnerable population with the care they deserve.  Residential boarding schools like Crossnore may provide stability in terms of quality education and healthcare, but fail to ensure kids have permanent ties to family- biological or chosen.  As a result, it fails kids on many levels.

THIS OP-ED argues that children shouldn't have to choose between family or education; they deserve (and arguably need) both. 
YAPWORX - A Revolution in Workforce Development
"It starts with a fire inside the belly...a desire for change; a vision for a better life. Add preparation, and it becomes a belief. Add opportunity, and it becomes a goal. Add support, and it becomes a way of life.

An Opportunity Advisor (OA) is one who knows that everyone must start from the beginning and that sometimes people mess up and must return to the starting line. An OA realizes that the only way to fight against 12-21 years of bad information, advice and examples is to not give up until they get it right. An Opportunity advisor stands committed to helping without the expectation of gratitude or reciprocation.  Because in the end, some young people just need a spark to start the fire.  I am an OA - I am a Spark!"                                             - YAPWORX OA Structure Guide

In today's world of evidence-based hysteria, program success has become simply defined as "getting a kid a job." What is often overlooked is what must take place to get a young person into the economic race. What is undervalued is the realization that not all youth begin at the same starting line.

Our new program, YAPWORX, focuses on serving high-risk youth in juvenile justice and child welfare systems. There are no criteria for entry into YAPWORX. We work with all youth irrespective of employment readiness, client characteristics, case histories, and/or developmental barriers. The goal of YAPWORX is not a job; it's labor market participation and engagement. It's about using the influence of an Opportunity Advisor to give underserved youth a chance at gaining authentic labor market information and connections. It uses the support of a YAP Advocate to turn these assets into career pathways and employment opportunities.

Here's A SAMPLE of one of the 24 YAPWORX Opportunity Advisor Structured Interaction Guides. A tool used by both OAs and Advocates to structure each of the four OA interactions into a dynamic opportunity for workplace learning and connections.
What's More Important:  a job or an identity project?
Over one-third of our country's black youth 16-24 are "disconnected" - not attending school or working.  THIS STUDYconducted over a decade in one of Baltimore's "worst and most violent" housing projects, suggests that connection to an "identity project"- concrete activities that youth committed to and found meaningful- in their middle or high school years may be one of a few factors that favorably impacts youth engagement with school and work.  

THIS ARTICLE IN FUSION discusses Identity Projects and other factors found in the study that can be instituted in order to make opportunities available for all youth to thrive.   
Honoring Fort Worth TX Graduates
On May 11, Tarrant County YAP held a graduation and recognition ceremony on the campus of Texas Christian University (TCU), a valued community partner. Over 40 graduates were honored and outstanding Advocates recognized.  Many thanks to TCU's Department of Community Engagement for providing the venue for this event, and to Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) and the City of Fort Worth for their continued support.   READ MORE about how Fort Worth YAP is addressing barriers to school attendance.  
Santa Fe Youth Services: Evidenced-Based Prevention
Last September, YAP merged with Santa Fe Youth Services (SFYS), a respected provider in Tarrant County, TX.  Over the past 15 years, SFYS has provided evidence-based prevention programs to over 43,000 youth in the Fort Worth Independent School District.  Read about their FWISD programs in this  SERVICE OVERVIEW
New 10 Year Study on Young Adults with Autism Served by YAP Finds Support for Relational Approach 
YAP is excited to share this recently published study that shows positive data regarding quality of life and supports outcomes for young adults with autism who received YAP services.  The study, done by Robin Ferris and James W. Conroy, followed all of the 128 individuals with autism who began to receive YAP services during the year before the study for 10 years.       READ MORE  
Bradford County PA Vocational Rehabilitation Services 
YAP's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) program in Bradford County PA began providing job coaching services last November.  Today, 5 of the 7 consumers they serve are employed in industries such as children's day care, shoe retailer, Family Dollar and Lowes Home Improvement stores and assisted living facilities.  Program staff continue to develop a varied roster of businesses willing to partner with YAP to act as hosts for Community Based Work Assessments.  

In addition, they also offer employment services through the Waiver program where we provide assistance to individuals with disabilities through the Supported Employment service.  To this end, they have successfully helped consumers to secure employment at grocery stores, bakeries, the local YMCA, animal shelters and local green house vendors.  
WV Youth Wins County Writing Competition
Amy, a West Virginia YAP youth took 1st place in her county writing competition with AN ESSAY that she penned about coping with the traumatic loss of her brother.   Her first place finish in the Berkeley County Young Writers Competition earned her a spot to compete in the statewide competition at Marshall University.   Congratulations Amy!
What Mental Illness Feels Like...
Ambroseanda Heardt, a Community Living Specialist from YAP's behavioral health program in Harris County, TX SHARED HER EXPERIENCE with a mental health condition as a part of Mental Health Awareness Month's #mentalillnessfeels like campaign.
Racial Disparities Increase While Youth Incarceration Decreases
This Sentencing Project report highlights the troubling increase in racial disparities among youth committed in the juvenile justice system, even as juvenile commitments overall have declined substantially. In RACIAL DISPARITIES IN YOUTH COMMITMENTS AND ARRESTS, TSP reviews state-by-state disparities in commitments and the likely impact of growing racial disparities in arrests. As of 2013, the commitment rate for African American youth was four times higher than for white youth, an increase of 15 percent over ten years. This report by the Sentencing Project shows that racial disparities are increasing.  
Celebrating 2 Years of YAP Pilot in Australia
The YAP international team continued remote and onsite support of the YAP Pilot in Australia. Preparing to celebrate its 2 year anniversary, the innovative Sydney program has demonstrated a successful example of a reduction in a reliance on institutional care.  The YAP model and guiding principles have translated well into an Australian context to create community alternatives, reunite families and work with marginalized minority populations including Aboriginal youth.
Street Soccer Model Training in Ireland
Building on friendships that grew from November events in New York and Pennsylvania when (US Embassy Buenos Aires-sponsored) a team from the FuDE organization in Argentina sent a delegation to conduct street soccer workshops at the Orange County NY YAP Program and then shared a workshop on street soccer and game in Harrisburg as part of the 40th Anniversary activities, YAP Ireland staff and Newburgh staff reunited to introduce street soccer to the YAP Ireland community in Dublin and Galway this month. Jason Wilson, Director of Intensive Services at Orange County YAP, and Advocates Michelle Toia and Ezra Vega share this report from the field.    


Youth Advocate Programs

YAP is a nationally recognized, nonprofit organization exclusively committed to the provision of community-based alternatives to out-of-home care through direct service, advocacy and policy change since 1975.