Youth Advocate Program: Keeping children and parents together

Painting project – Student Mariahlee James paints part of a sports-themed mural at the Fulton CYO. The mural is part of a community service project between YAP and Catholic Charities.

by Nicole Reitz

The Youth Advocate Program, located at 616 Oneida St., Fulton, is in the business of keeping kids and families together at home.

YAP, an alternative to a placement program, is a contracted service by the Department of Social Services. Families are referred to YAP off the DSS case load and work with a wide range of situations throughout Oswego County.

Most of YAP’s cases are either school-related issues, parenting or the parent-child relationship.

“The county has different things that they can do with kids who are at-risk of residential placement,” said David Canfield, Oswego County director of YAP. “We don’t have the stigma that a lot of times DSS walks in with. DSS recognizes that they don’t have the resources with families that YAP can have. We’re here to work closely with DSS to help them do their jobs better, easier.”

Children ages nine to 16 are considered at risk of placement for either things that they’ve done; things that they don’t do, like attend school; or things that are done to them, such as physical or sexual abuse.

YAP covers the most difficult cases that are allowed to stay at home. The program’s job is to assist and partner with the county to make sure that children are safe and that families are following what they need to do.

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