Youth Advocate Programs

INVESTING IN JOB SKILLS INSTEAD OF JUVENILE DETENTION (Winter 2018). Philanthropy can play a major role in encouraging breakthrough social change, but breakthroughs often require a bit of risk. In the case of Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), philanthropy in cooperation with the judicial system launched a pilot of the first “pay for success” model in Central Indiana. Philanthropic investments of $800,000 dollars helped nearly 50 youths improve their lives. By comparison, it would have cost the State of Indiana more than $1.6 million dollars to incarcerate those youth. The proven cost savings combined with positive outcomes for youth led the Department of Child Services (DCS) to contract with YAP for the remainder of this fiscal year.  

YAP has been working with youth on probation in Marion County since January 2016. The main goals of the YAP pilot were to:
--Provide community-based services and supports that are tailored to the unique needs, strengths and interests of the youth and their family.
--Act as an alternative to commitment or placement for moderate to high-risk youth, and reduce the number of residential bed days (incarceration) paid by the State of Indiana’s DCS used for Marion County youth.

YAP provided services to youth and their families including but not limited to supported (paid) work, educational advocacy, mentoring, crisis management and safety planning. Of the youth served, 81% connected with school and/or work. YAP contributed to a reduction of nearly 40% in DCS incarceration of youth during the first 12 months of the pilot. The cost savings for the state was more than double what was projected and stipulated in the initial contract. Juvenile court judges and the probation department have developed confidence that YAP offers a young person an opportunity to change his or her life. 

The Clowes Fund awarded $40K, a small grant used for supported work stipends, a core component of YAP, which was added to the significant funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Lilly Endowment.  

In the image, a vital and unique part of the YAP model is connecting youth in positive ways to their communities based on their particular interests and strengths.  An example of this principle in practice is illustrated through the story of EJ, pictured above.  EJ was nominated by YAP Program Director Gabe Grady and chosen to participate in the Indianapolis Black Congressional Forum at the Statehouse. Through that experience, EJ was able to use his personal experience and interest to advocate for increasing public safety by reducing youth incarceration, recidivism and violence in the community.