The U.S. Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) notes that definitions of evidence base vary and that “evidence based programs are not one size fits all.”
YAP’s programs—juvenile justice, child welfare, behavioral health and others—blend an evidence based approach with the creativity and innovation necessary to address individual needs of the diverse populations we serve.
YAP's approach to working with kids, families and communities is strength-based. Our core wraparound/advocacy model blends elements of wraparound planning, mentoring, and positive youth development.
YAP intervention begins with a holistic assessment process that allows us to develop individualized service plans that meet the specific needs, strengths and interests of each young person. A paid, trained and closely supervised advocate recruited from the local community works intensively with the young person to achieve the goals identified in their plan.
We are sensitive to the issues that face many of our young people, such as trauma, violence, and poverty, and engage the community—both the formal services and positive people, places and activities—to work together to support families.
Most importantly, we never give up and have a “no eject, no reject” commitment to our kids and families.
Findings from 10 external research studies contributed to YAP’s recognition as a “promising practice” by OJJDP and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Other well-established government organizations and private foundations also recognize the effectiveness of YAP’s approach.
Within our core model, YAP incorporates a number of specific evidence based group and individual interventions that both augment and complement wraparound/advocacy services.
One of many highly successful examples is our use of the evidence based curriculum Peaceful Alternatives to Tough Situations (PATTS). PATTS is a group intervention which uses cognitive-behavioral therapeutic strategies to help youth manage and reduce conflict and violent responses. The intervention has proven successful in YAP’s MERGE—Males Engaged in Reducing Violence Through Gainful Employment Program in NJ and with high-risk youth in other areas of the country.
YAP also uses the Girls Circle/Boys Council, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other evidence-based interventions as appropriate in specific program sites. With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, YAP is adapting the evidence-based Teen Outreach Program (TOP) curriculum to serve high-risk, systems involved young people.
Through external evaluations and a comprehensive internal outcome measurement system, YAP continues to build its evidence base.
Our internal system has been in place since 2005 and measures client outcomes at intervals during program participation and post-discharge outcomes for one year. YAP has collected entry and discharge information on 41,948 people and post discharge on 7,814 unique individuals.
Research studies currently underway include the University of Texas/San Antonio (UTSA) and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
In 2011, UTSA, in collaboration with YAP, received one of five “Best Practice in Mentoring” research grant awards from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The two-year study, started in 2012, will identify core features of YAP’s unique intervention model for high-risk youth and assess the impact of the intervention on recidivism rates. A rigorous quasi-experimental research design is comparing the impact of YAP services with comparable youth being served in other jurisdictional programs.
The April 2014 edition of YAPFacts, first in a series of John Jay issue briefs, gives results of a data review of 3,523 juvenile justice youth (males and females, ages 11 to 18) who received YAP’s in-home and neighborhood-based services. Findings show that high risk young people—even those at the deeper end of the juvenile justice system--can live in their communities and remain arrest free when they get the right kind of help at home. In fact, the review shows that the vast majority—93%--of the youth remained in the community at the time of the discharge from YAP.
While our evidence base is important, YAP’s story is not painted by statistics and numbers alone. The heart of our agency is our never give up approach and our ability to provide services at times, locations and service levels tailored to youth and family needs.
For additional evidence of our success, research findings and information on our various programs, please read our publication "Evidence Supporting YAP's Model," visit www.yapinc.org or contact Carla Benway.