Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP) is a national nonprofit organization that works to keep youth safely home and out of residential placements. The mission of YAP is to support families and communities and to engage partners in the broader human services system to reduce the reliance on institutional placement.
From the YAP website:
“Our mission is to engage human service systems so that they rely less on institutional care and to invest more in supporting families and neighborhoods. We currently work with child welfare, juvenile justice, behavioral health, disability and education systems to develop and offer community-based alternatives for the highest risk children, young people, young adults and families. Our staff seeks to capitalize on the strength and resources of families and communities, including identifying and engaging the informal natural helpers that are found in every community to support the highest risk youth and families.”
YAP currently operates programs in 18 States and 100 local communities throughout the U.S. as well as four countries. The program serves approximately 12,000 families annually. It provides incarceration alternatives for young people in New Jersey and New York, gang intervention programs in Texas and South Carolina, and a variety of other youth programs in Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Newark. The YAP approach is to establish permanent connections for youth and young adults who often lack positive, community supports.
Juvenile Justice Alternatives Program
YAP provides a community-based alternative to placement program for youth justice departments across the country. The program is strength-based and family-focused and it serves adjudicated juvenile offenders whose behavior and social circumstances put them at risk of placement in residential facilities. Eligible youth are those deemed by the courts to be in need of residential care. The program follows an innovative advocacy/wraparound model that includes a comprehensive mix of highly individualized services for youth and their families. The goal of the program is to decrease the occurrence of juvenile crime and enhance community safety by increasing opportunities for success, improving the quality of life for youth and families, and facilitating community empowerment.
Clients referred to YAP receive individualized services from trained advocates that are tailored to the strengths and needs of each client and their family. Their no-refuse intake policy ensures that even the highest risk individuals are admitted into YAP program. The staff at YAP includes advocates recruited from the same neighborhoods as clients to improve relationships and to foster youth involvement in the community. Advocates work with clients up to 30 hours each week to support their acquisition of skills, competencies and connections. Advocates are available round the clock for crisis management.