Youth Advocate Programmes (YAP) Ireland is a leading provider of intensive support programmes for young people and families. YAP Ireland uses a strengths based, family focused approach for young people with complex needs leading to positive outcomes for the young people, their families and referral agents.
YAP Ireland’s vision is a Society where Young People and Families are confident and connected with their communities.
YAP Ireland’s mission is to build partnerships between vulnerable young people, their families and communities to support their full potential through a community based, strengths focused, intensive support model which provides a more effective and economic alternative to society’s reliance on the direct provision of state institutions and out-of-home care services.
The Youth Advocate Programme model is a family support initiative, which was established in Pennsylvania in 1975 for juvenile offenders returning to their community after spending time in correctional institutions. Today YAP Inc. is one of the largest non-profit Youth and Family Support agencies working with high-risk youth and their families in a strengths based, needs led advocacy model in the United States.
In 2002 YAP Ireland/UK through the support and backing of the Health Boards now Health Service Executive piloted the Youth Advocate Programmes (YAP) model in the North Dublin, Galway, Roscommon and Mayo areas. At it’s launch the then Minister for Children Brian Lenihan explained “that the programme is about providing support and direction to young people within their homes and local communities in a way which acknowledges their strengths and offers unconditional care” (Lenihan Sept 2002)
The YAP model was reviewed in 2004 by the then Western Health Board (HSE) whose findings concluded that YAP was seen as being an effective model in identifying the needs of the target group.“It meets their needs in a practical manner and is popular with service users because it takes an interest in the individual personalities and opinions of its clients. In general, the programme has made a difference and clients have benefited from its continuity and are happy with the programme” (YAP evaluation Report April 2004).
Buoyed by the success of the programme the original pilot projects continued and further expansion of the programme took place with the North East Region of Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan establishing services in 2004 and then Limerick in 2006.
In March 2009 YAP Ireland became a registered charity and is now managed by a Board of Directors. YAP has continued to develop its service delivery to young people and families through Intensive Support, Family Support, Aftercare, Crisis Intervention and Disability Programmes all based on the needs led model. In 2014 we started a pilot service for Young People leaving the Children Detention Schools with the Irish Youth Justice Service. Today YAP is operating in 21 counties across Ireland and we expect to expand our services further in the next year. We employ 32 permanent staff and approx. 150 advocates. In 2015, 550 young people and their families participated on the YAP programmes.
The young people who are referred to YAP are at high risk of placement in care, secure care and custody. These young people present with a range of inter-connected difficulties around their home, education, peer groups, behaviour and community (Level 3 and 4 on the Hardiker Scale). The intensive support of up to 15 hrs a week over 6 months provided to young people and their families using a strengths based, needs led approach leads to positive outcomes for the young people, their families, their community and referral agents.
YAP is an extremely economical alternative to the high financial, emotional and behavioural costs of custodial and care placements and works in close partnership with HSE Child and Family Services, other NGO’s and Community based services to provide an holistic wraparound support service to young people and their families.
“A SIMPLE PRACTICAL SOLUTION”(Parent )