FULTON, NY – The Oswego County Youth Advocate Program leaders continue to speak out regarding the proposed elimination of the program from the 2014 county budget.
The Oswego County program has been around for more than 15 years, according to Stacie Roberts, program director. The national program has been in existence for more than 30 years, she added.
Speaking at this month’s county legislature meeting, Roberts pointed out that the families they work with are some of “the most vulnerable, at-risk members of our community. We are there because YAP offers something not available through any other service.”
“YAP is not a typical service and does not run the usual 9-5,” Heather Crofoot, assistant director explained. “Our advocates are with families anywhere from 5 – 20 hours per week depending on the needs of the family. The majority of these hours are regularly scheduled for early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Those times when families are experiencing the highest stress and that our support can assist them in utilizing the skills they are learning. Our concern, and what we are hearing from families, is that if YAP is no longer available who will be there for them to provide the support at those times?”
For nearly two decades, YAP has provided Oswego County with intensive community based services for some of its most vulnerable children and families, according to Casey Lane, YAP’s NYS regional director.
“Funded by the Department of Social Services, our families come to us with myriad challenges, which often result in their children being at high risk of out of home placement. Poverty, lack of supports, substance abuse and mental health issues result in involvement of Child Protective Services and the child welfare system for the majority of our families,” he said. “Program results have continuously demonstrated the tremendous impact our services have with the youth and families we serve.”
“We work with the family, not just the individual,” Roberts said. “We are a strength based program. We work with families to identify their strengths and we build on those strengths. Our program develops plans which are tailored to meet the needs of individual families.”
The county program serves 44 families at any given time. With families achieving goals and moving out of the program and new families entering, that number can reach as high as 120 during any give year.
Youth in residential placements are reimbursed at 50 percent of actual costs while youth receiving YAP services are reimbursed at 62 percent, according to YAP figures.
The annual funding for YAP is $765,000, according to county budget figures.
“The average cost of a family in YAP based on 44 families in the program at any time is $47.63 for one day.” Roberts said. “However, with New York State providing a 62 percent reimbursement rate, the actual cost to the county is $290,700 per year or $18.01 per day per family.”
“Based on those figures, the savings for one youth diverted from institutional placement would be $38,868.85,” Roberts continued. “Even from a very conservative estimate of 10 youth that would have been referred to the program per year being placed in institutional care, the cost to the county would be $544,425; that is nearly double the amount paid for YAP services.”
“That would leave the other 34 families without the intensive support of YAP services; not to mention the employment opportunities for our Oswego County staff and their contributions to their local communities,” Crofoot said.
The program currently employs 20 advocates who undergo rigorous training and routinely update their training as well.
93 families have been served between Jan. 1 and Sept. 20, 2013.
97 percent of families served remained intact with no out of home placement.
94 percent of youth served remained arrest-free during program involvement.
88 percent of families utilized community based supports and services during program involvement.