From Intern to Advocate: Harley Pressel is Making a Difference for Kids on Probation

    YAP York County, Pa. Lead Advocate Harley Pressel.

    York, Pa. – “A pretty cool chick; and an absolutely wonderful human being who gets along with everybody.” That’s how Youth Advocate Programs (YAP™), Inc. York County, Pennsylvania Lead Advocate Harley Pressel’s supervisor describes her. 

    “Harley really has built a phenomenal relationship with our referring agency,” said YAP York County, Pa. Director Natasha Kara. “They love her to death and she is an amazing member to our team.”

    A partnership with York County Probation Services’ Juvenile Wellness Court, the YAP York County, Pa., Youth Justice Program provides systems-involved young people ages 14-18 with a neighborhood-based Advocate who is trained to empower them with tools to see and nurture their strengths.

    “I wanted to take a moment to extend my appreciation for our ongoing partnership with Youth Advocate Programs and most specifically, for Harley’s role as a member of our team,” said Juvenile Wellness Court Coordinator/Specialty Programs Supervisor Danielle Salisbury. “Harley is truly an asset to our team.  She is professional, energetic, and hard working.”

    Harley Pressel.

    YAP connects program participants and their parents and guardians with resources to meet their individualized economic, educational, emotional, and basic needs.

    In its pre-50th anniversary year, YAP is a national nonprofit it 35 states and Washington, D.C. that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, education, public safety, and other systems to deliver community-based services as alternatives to youth incarceration, residential care, and neighborhood violence. The nonprofit’s national headquarters is in Harrisburg, PA, and the York County office is one of about 30 county YAP offices in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

    The York County program has the capacity to serve up to 20 youths, but currently has approximately eight program participants all assigned to Pressel who started with YAP as an intern her senior year at York College of Pennsylvania in 2022. York County Probation Services’ Juvenile Wellness Court refers many program participants to YAP due to substance and or mental health issues. Pressel sees each of them once – sometimes twice a week – and connects with them by being a confidant who offers encouragement, assistance and takes them on an outings to the mall or park if they’ve reached their goals.

    “I definitely try to get on their level,” said Pressel, adding that she makes it a point to also communicate with the youths’ parents or guardians. “I am not a probation officer. I am there to help support them in any way possible. That helps them to be honest throughout the program.”

    October 2024 marks two years since the York County YAP program got off the ground. Kara and Pennsylvania Regional Director Bob Swanson aligned the program to address the needs and trauma of youth who are on probation.

    Swanson said Pressel abilities are a testament to the dedication of YAP staff who help change the lives of young people.

    “Harley was the Advocate who Natasha went to right out of the gate; with confidence she would be the staff who could and would provide the best support,” Swanson said. “To hear probation’s feedback really affirms Natasha’s assessment of Harley’s abilities.”

    Pressel is extremely proud of all of her program participants, but highlighted one in particular who was able to complete the program in four months, two months earlier than it normally takes. She said he was able to get off drugs, devoted his all to the program, had straight A’s in school and even applied for scholarships including the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education to further his education.

    “It was good for the other participants to see him doing well,” Pressel added. “I just feel empowered to do what I need to do to help youth. I have always had a passion to want to help others.”

    For more information on YAP, visit or follow the organization on X at YAPInc.