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Where We Work  >  International  >  History of International Work

YAP History of International Work:

Since 1993, YAP has initiated international programs and provided consultation and training to help other countries and organizations prevent youth from institutionalization or out of home care and to bring youth home from institutions and back to their families and community. 

In the United Kingdom, YAP Programs operated in several jurisdictions within London to provide alternatives to detention for high risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Later, when a number of collaborations formed in the Northeast and Midlands of England to run programs in-house, YAP provided training and consultation to hire staff who could effectively implement our family and community-based model. 

The success of the programs in the UK led to YAP programs in two counties in Ireland, representing both urban and rural areas.  YAP provided a critical service to the Health Service Executive in Ireland – at that time, the nation relied solely on residential placements for youth in child welfare systems. YAP was the first community-based organization in Ireland to bring youth out of residential placement and back to their homes. Staff did whatever was necessary to manage risk and provide support to their families so the youth could remain at home rather than in residential settings. Importantly, YAP’s commitment to hiring culturally competent advocates contributed to the programs’ success as many of the youth represented marginalized groups, including Irish Travelers. Today, YAP Ireland, Ltd. operates as its own entity and now serves youth in more than 12 counties throughout Ireland. 

YAP also worked with a well-vested social services agency in Scotland to provide a community arm to its residential services that helped move high risk youth out of the residential homes quicker. In Hawaii, YAP provided support and training to an indigenous organization which provided alternatives to detention and later community-based child welfare and juvenile justice programs to Hawaii’s youth, including large populations of indigenous and Samoan kids

YAP’s impact extends beyond the US and Europe. In Guatemala, YAP supports a sister program which works with street children subject to severe human rights violations. Such violations included beatings, detaining youth for petty crimes and sometimes murder of youth.  With an eye to the elevated level of violence in Guatemala as well as a growing social consciousness among young Guatemalan activists mobilizing to collaborate to achieve greater change, YAP staff continues to explore how best to support Guatemalan youth and families staying true to the YAP mission of working with the most marginalized youth in their own communities.  

Similarly, YAP has a sister program in Sierra Leone which works with former child-combatants traumatized from the roles they were forced to play in Sierra Leone’s civil war. This program was started by a YAP Advocate originally from Sierra Leone, who recognized that our model could be adapted and effectively used to help the youth of Sierra Leone. 

YAP supports the most marginalized youth and families in Sierra Leone and Guatemala through individual donations, fundraisers and weekly contributions from employee payroll deductions.   In 2005, the International Committee of the YAP Board of Directors was created.  The International Committee is dedicated to expand and develop YAP’s international initiatives and advocate for youth on a global level in line with two of the four focus areas of “Being a Voice” and “Growth and Expansion” of YAP’s Strategic Plan.  Agency-wide, from individual staff weekly payroll contributions to the Board of Directors, YAP is dedicated to building healthier families and stronger communities.

Expanding our Impact: Organizing Youth Advocates Around the World

YAP co-founded and incubated a separate organization, the International Youth Advocacy Federation (IYAF).  The IYAF is a multinational consortium of like-minded organizations and individuals that directly partners with young people, promotes family and community advocacy, and assists vulnerable youth and their families to lead safe and productive lives in their communities.  The IYAF maintains a dual focus on advocacy action and policy change.  Encompassing groups from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America, the IYAF is youth-driven. It works to develop strong leadership skills in youth and then amplify those youth voices within the IYAF network to further sustainable development and improved policies for youth and families. The IYAF welcomes new members, both frontline workers from the international community and local partners who want to gain knowledge on how to participate as a global citizen and be part of a synergy to restore hope for a more just world.

More information about the IYAF can be found here or by visiting