YAP’s Advocate of the Year seeks to make children smile

David Canfield, county director of Youth Advocate Program of Oswego County, stands with 2012 Advocate of the Year Amanda Cole. Cole has worked at YAP for two years and was nominated for the award by her supervisor, co-workers and families that she serves.

by Nicole Reitz

The Youth Advocate Program of Oswego County recognized the accomplishments of its staff Friday at an awards presentation held at the Volney Town Hall.

YAP is an alternative to placement program that is a contracted service by the Oswego County Department of Social Services. Families are referred to YAP off the DSS caseload. YAP works with a wide range of situations throughout Oswego County.

DSS Commissioner Gregg Heffner attended the Advocate of the Year ceremony and spoke about the joint effort between YAP and DSS.

“YAP is an important and vital part of the service structure for the Department of Social Services,” he said. “The flexibility and the ability to morph and evolve to what a family needs is what YAP is all about, and that is a very dynamic and important service. I’m proud of all of you. The work that you do is an absolute asset to the human services profession in Oswego County and Central New York.”

“This year marks the most experienced staff that YAP has ever had,” said David Canfield, county director of Youth Advocate Program of Oswego County.

Canfield listed the criteria a candidate needed in order to be nominated for the Advocate of the Year.

YAP employees had to work at the program for at least six months, show leadership and the ability to reach kids. Several of the 30-plus employees were nominated by either parents of the children they interact with or by peers.

Amanda Cole, 24, was chosen as YAP’s Advocate of the Year.

Cole has been with YAP for two years, and currently works with four different families. “Every family needs different things,” said Cole.

She explained that some need instruction on boundaries and how to act appropriately in certain settings while others need help with strengthening communication skills.

One the families that she just started working with came to the luncheon with a letter about how much she appreciates the work that Cole does. Cole was touched by the letter and was brought to tears.

“It’s a challenging job,” Cole said. “It can be stressful to take on all of these different families with their own needs and chaos. But at the same time it is rewarding because I get to go to work and make kids smile all day long.”

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