Getting Harris County, Texas ‘Children without Placement’ Safely Home

    Read More About this Pilot Program in this article by Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. President Gary Ivory

    This month, leaders at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) took a transformative step to get children who are disconnected from their families safely home. They contracted with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. to implement an innovative “Safely Home” pilot program in Harris County. Working with YAP, TDFPS is addressing a growing problem in Texas and throughout our nation as social services grapple with youth who are without placement.

    YAP’s goal working with TDFPS is to find safe alternatives for children without placement, to prevent disruption of foster care placements, and to provide individual and family services as youth are coming home from out-of-state justice and other congregate facilities.

    Some of the tools that YAP will employ are:

    • Family Finding/Family Seeking to identify and solidify permanency options and other supports for youths who have no viable discharge resource to allow them to return safely home.
    • Parent/caregiver prevention and reunification supports, through information sharing, coaching, modeling, feedback, and connections to additional community supports.
    • Comprehensive assessments that support voice and choice and inform YAP Individual Service Plans that will guide how to engage sustainable YAP Family Teams to provide the social support and social capital needed for children and families to succeed long term.
    • Connection with educational and/or vocational opportunities.
    • Behavioral health services: YAP will extend its unique “meet them where they are” mobile behavioral health, substance use and other intervention services to the Harris County Safely Home program participants and their families/guardians to do what’s needed to firm that family foundation.
    • Transportation, language translation assistance, and safety planning.
    • Flex fund: YAP will have available funding to help families – birth, kinship and/or guardian families meet basic needs with the goal of eliminating barriers to providing a safe family home for program participants.
    • YAP Supported Work, connecting youth 14 or older to businesses willing to give them skills development training, and connections to long-term employment opportunities, while YAP provides compensation to program participants.
    • YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Scholarship: Program participants, alumni and parents/caregivers can apply for scholarships through the YAP Endowment Fund to support individual education and employment goals such as attending college, a trade school, or similar endeavors.

    YAP is a 47-year-old nonprofit in Texas and 32 other states and Washington D.C. that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, public safety, and other systems to provide community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration, congregate residential care placements, and neighborhood violence. Learn more about YAP at Follow the nonprofit on Twitter @YAPInc.