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YAP International


An Introduction to YAP Inc. by YAP CEO Jeff Fleischer

YAP Inc. traces its roots to a 1975 ruling that prohibited young people from being incarcerated with adult inmates at the State Correctional Institution in Camp Hill, PA. Today, YAP Inc. is one of the largest non-profit agencies providing exclusively non-residential, community-based programs.

We support, care for, organize and empower the most vulnerable and marginalized young people, adults and families in the US and abroad. By tapping into the strengths and capabilities of the 10,000 families we serve each year, our 2,000+ YAP staff members, and the capacity of communities, YAP affects positive change.

YAP Inc. currently has programs in 17 states and serves 25 major US cities as well as dozens of other urban, suburban and rural communities. We have also developed and supported community-based programs in Ireland, Scotland, Guatemala and Sierra Leone.

YAP Inc. has developed unique service delivery principles that guide our work with youth and families involved in the Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, Behavioral Health and Education systems. Our staff, who reside in or near the neighborhoods they serve, work non-traditional, flexible hours and are accessible 24/7. Our demonstrated ability to recruit and energize indigenous resident leaders within neighborhoods is another unique element of our success.

External evaluations of YAP Inc. confirm the validity of our approach. Our model has also been cited by several external bodies, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as a "promising practice" in providing effective alternatives to institutional care. Our comprehensive internal systems include Outcome Measurement, Monitoring of Service Delivery and Family Satisfaction and Integrity Compliance. YAP Inc. is certified by the Council On Accreditation (COA).

Since our agency opened, YAP Inc. has experienced rapid growth. We have broadened our scope of services and increased our capacity to serve more children, youth, families and adults—including those who have not succeeded with traditional services. We continue to explore new opportunities to demonstrate our unique and effective community-based alternatives to out-of-home placements.

YAP Inc.'s Commitment

We value our relationships with youth, families and referring entities and therefore take our work very seriously. YAP Inc. is committed to providing ethical and high quality services, and we continually seek opportunities to improve. As such, we structure ourselves with systems and practices that set forth guidelines that can be monitored, corrected and/or revised as needed.

Our Commitment to Integrity Compliance

YAP Inc. provides community based services with funding derived from State and Federal governmental entities. As a result of the source of our funding and as a commitment to those we serve, we adhere to a comprehensive Integrity Compliance Program. Our Compliance Program applies to, and is mandatory for, officers, directors, employees, consultants, vendors, and any person or entity representing Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. Within this section of the website, you will find compliance documents that provide guidance for strictly adhering to our Compliance Program.

Integrity Compliance Plan (ICP) is a document which states YAP, Inc.'s commitment to preventing fraud, abuse and waste while furthering our fundamental mission: serving youth and families in their communities. The plan outlines what is expected of employees to assist in maintaining the agency's high standards of excellence.

Our Commitment to Performance and Quality Improvement

We take pride in our approach to working with youth and families. At the same time, we recognize the importance of ensuring model fidelity while also continuing to adapt and improve our model based on the changing needs of our youth, families and referring authorities and what we learn through working with them. YAP Inc.’s Performance and Quality Improvement Department (PQI) serves a number of functions designed to position us to learn from and improve our services in a timely, ongoing manner.

Outcome Measurement: Every youth and family we work with is unique, but they all come to YAP with high risk and need in key life areas, such as residence and education among others. Nearly 40 years of success stories tell us that our youth and families achieve good outcomes in these areas, yet we recognize that stories are not enough. Measuring outcomes provides us with the opportunity to verify what we know with actual data; it further helps us to identify programs that might need additional coaching and support in our model to improve their outcomes. YAP Inc. has utilized entry and discharge surveys to measure change in youth living, legal, educational and vocational situations since 2005. In 2010, we expanded the process to include measurement at three, six and 12 months after discharge. Additional surveys to measure outcomes of specific populations are currently under development. For more on our outcomes, click here.

In addition to internal outcomes measurement, researchers from The John Jay Institute for Juvenile Justice, The State University of New York at Albany and The University of Texas – San Antonio are currently studying several of our programs to determine, among other things, how well we match our youth and families with our advocates, how those matches affect outcomes, and how our outcomes compare to those of youth and families that don’t receive YAP service. We look forward to the results of these studies and how what we learn from them can further improve the quality of our service.

Monitoring Department: YAP Inc. contracts with independent monitors to help us ensure that we are living up to our quality standards. These monitors call families each month to ensure that our staff are accurately documenting their work. When families are not reached by phone, YAP Inc. sends self-addressed stamped letters that assess the same information. Monitors further assess family satisfaction with staff and their child’s progress. For more information on our Monitoring procedures, click here.

To learn more about our PQI Plan, please click here.

Sierra Leone Youth Advocate Program (SLYAP)

Empowering Youths to be the Rulers of Their Destiny

YAP’s sister agency in Sierra Leone is doing innovative work to re-build a country, educate and inspire full political participation by all the citizens of Sierra Leone, amplify the voice of youth in Sierra Leone and develop youth leaders to lead Sierra Leone into a bright future after a brutal civil war.  In 1991, the war in Liberia spilled over to Sierra Leone where conflicts erupted between Revolutionary United Front (RUF) soldiers and Sierra Leone government forces. From 1991 to 2002, war atrocities included the extensive use of child soldiers by both sides, forced amputations and sexual violence towards children in a war that did not distinguish combatant from civilian but randomly inflicted brutality and severe human rights abuses. 

In March 2000, the Sierra Leone Youth Advocate Program (SLYAP) was developed for Sierra Leone youth who were determined to be the most devastated members of the ongoing Sierra Leone Conflict. SLYAP has provided mentoring, counseling, education and grassroots support to these youth to enable them to regain control of their lives and to empower them to become productive contributors to Sierra Leone's bright future - a future that the youth will create.

The original program enrolled 420 youth and operated mainly out of Freetown Refugee Camp and the Mile 91 province. Mile 91 gets its name from the fact that it is exactly 91 miles away from Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. Mile 91 is vital in bridging the rest of the country to Freetown. Due to its strategic location at the crossroads of Sierra Leone, the Mile 91 community was frequently attacked by rebels during the civil war who burned homes and killed residents indiscriminately.  Sanusi and his team noted that although there was a great need at Mile 91, no one was working there.  The SLYAP team began helping orphaned children locate relatives who had survived the war, assisted in the re-unification process and re-building the community.  For the next two years, Advocates worked to bring poor and orphaned children back to the care of their family members by providing them with basic humanitarian needs, mentorship, and support.

By 2001, the Freetown Refugee Camp had been closed and children had returned to families or to the streets. A school was developed at Mile 91 and various collectives were established to help parents to reestablish themselves through farming, cloth making, etc. In January 2005, Tom Jeffers traveled to Sierra Leone with Minette Bauer for the dedication of the new Thomas L. Jeffers Youth Center named in Jeffers' honor.  With the continued support of the YAP Board of Directors,leadership, and staff, SLYAP has grown as one of YAP’s two international sister agencies.  Individual contributions, YAP program fundraisers and YAP staff going “The Extra Mile” with a weekly payroll deduction towards support of SLYAP demonstrate the vested interest the YAP community has in the growth and sustainable development of SLYAP.

Recently, SLYAP services have expanded to address public health issues, sexual violence towards girls and women, the psychological effects of sustained trauma, and the need to create jobs and economic opportunities for its young.  Encouraging youth to use their voices to participate and guide the rebirth of Sierra Leone is emphasized by the SLYAP team.  Before the 2007 presidential elections, the SLYAP team held town meetings to assist residents in registering to vote and urging citizens to participate in the democratic process.  In 2010, the SLYAP team welcomed Monmouth University School of Social Work Community and International Development student Ashley Terleski to do field work and conduct youth focus groups in Freetown and Mile 91. Taking a holistic approach in its programming, SLYAP has a congruent mission to YAP’s own as it works to build healthy kids, families, communities and a nation.

Hale Kipa, Inc., Hawaii

YAP provided training and consultation to Hale Kipa to create the Hawaii Advocate Program (HAP).  Replicating the YAP model, HAP provides community-based services to youth at risk for involvement in the Child Welfare or Juvenile Justice Systems on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.  Hale Kipa began its work in 1970 with the opening of  the “House of Friendliness” assisting thousands of Hawaii’s runaways and homeless youth and since then has expanded its programs to serve more than 40,000 youth which YAP is proud to have partnered in doing.   Learn more about Hale Kipa’s mission of providing opportunities and environments that strengthen and encourage youth, their families and communities to actualize their potential and social responsibility here

Kibble Education and Care Centre, Scotland

Following the success of the Hawaii Advocate Program, YAP staff successfully translated the YAP model in Scotland in partnership with Kibble, Inc.  YAP staff supplied training and consultation to Kibble to design and support the implementation of a new community-based program to work with youth and families with complex needs.  Founded in 1859, Kibble is the largest multi-service center in the United Kingdom providing a comprehensive range of education, training and social welfare services.  

Botkyrka YAP, Sweden

Botkyrka YAP was launched in May 2015 by the Irish Ambassador to Sweden.  The launch was attended by Siobhan O’Dwyer, CEO of YAP Ireland CLG and staff from YAP Ireland CLG who had linked closely with the Botkyrka staff in setting up the programme.

Botkyrka YAP provides an intense; strengths based support to children, young people and families with different needs and is based on a trusting relationship between the young person and the YAP support person. 

Botkyrka YAP - A Support with a Focus on Strengths

Young people have different problems but common to them all is the goal to cope with everyday life. Botkyrka YAP focuses on the young persons strengths, and it is the young person's own wishes, goals and solutions to their worries that control what the support looks like. The YAP support person is on hand to help the young person and the family to find for themselves what is needed to reach their own goals.

Botkyrka YAP uses the model to support the children and young people who are in the greatest need of extra support. The main objectives of Botkyrka YAP are that young people should be supported to reverse a downward spiral. They will feel better and cope better with their schooling.

In Botkyrka the YAP programme is aimed at children and adolescents aged 10 to 18 who for various reasons find it difficult to cope with everyday life.

“One thing that is unique with Botkyrka YAP is that the model is based on what young people themselves have ideas about and how they want to resolve their situation. YAP focuses on the young people's own strengths rather than the problems”, explains Tina Trygg, Social Worker and Project Manager for Botkyrka YAP.

Each YAP-intervention, which runs over six months, aims to reverse the negative situation that young people are in.

“The young people and their guardians need to accept the programme to get a YAP-support person, or at least meet with a support person and then decide. Then the Social Services investigator will make a decision. After that we match the young person with YAP support person so that they can start working together”, says Tina Trygg.

Interesting challenges

YAP support people play an extremely important role in the model; they should be engaged in Botkyrka and want to help local young people to a better future. Support persons should be secure and trustworthy people and have good local knowledge. They must be at least 20 years old and YAP support people need to support the child or young person intensively for six months, up to 15 hours each week.

"These people are faced with very interesting challenges and will get close to the young people and their families. They are likely themselves to have vast personal development", says Tina Trygg.

All YAP support persons are trained and receive ongoing support during the six-month period. They will also receive compensation for the time spent.