On a cold February Baltimore morning , Dee is excited to bring Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Program Coordinator Chasity Dorsey up to speed on what’s happening in her life. A 24-year-old who spent her childhood in foster care, Dee has had her share of challenges. In fact, when she last spoke to Dorsey a few months ago, she was struggling. But today, Dee has great news — this afternoon, she has a job interview with Amazon.
Marking its 45th anniversary in 2020, YAP is a nonprofit in 29 states and the District of Columbia that partners with child welfare and youth justice systems to provide community-based alternatives to placing young people in institutional care. YAP Advocates receive special training to provide holistic “wraparound” services including intensive mentoring that empowers young people to identify their strengths while connecting them to tools to achieve their goals. Dee has kept up with Dorsey since she was in high school and a participant in a special YAP program for foster youth who would soon be transitioning out of the system.
“My Advocate was a great role model. She connected me to yoga, community college, counseling – so much,” Dee said.
They were tools that have empowered her to get back on track during the times that her life has gone off course. Dee’s story is an example that for systems-involved youth, a rocky road to independence is made smoother with support. At times, her journey has been obstructed by pain, fear and insecurity fostered by a childhood in strange homes and for a few months in the apartment of a young parent ill-prepared to care for a little girl toughened by the system. She credits YAP for helping her see and appreciate her intelligence, courage and resilience.
That afternoon at Amazon, Dee leaned on all her strengths to sell her best self during the interview. The next day, she got word that the job was hers. The next time she checks in with her friends at YAP, she expects the news to be even better as she takes a huge step in her young adult journey.
To learn more about YAP, please visit YAPInc.org.