In 1978, the state of Ohio ranked number one in the nation in the number of youth under eighteen years of age held in secure facilities with Georgia and California a close second and third. There was a tremendous need for alternative community services and after-care placements for youth released from institutions. In response to that need, Dr. Mubarak Awad created the Ohio Youth Advocate Program with direct encouragement from the Ohio Youth Commission (now the Department of Youth Services), the state agency charged with finding placements for delinquent youth referred to the state from county juvenile court judges.
The basic model, created by Dr. Awad, matched every youth in the program with a caseworker supervising his/her progress and an advocate, a concerned and caring adult who would spend ten-to-fifteen hours a week with the youth. One foundation of the program was to find the least restrictive placement for youth or sibling groups and foremost, to reunify youth with their family of origin or a relative whenever possible.
From the beginning, Dr. Awad was determined that the program not be dependent on grants and charitable gifts. Instead, he designed the Ohio Youth Advocate Program to provide services to juvenile courts or youth agencies for established fees.
From the outset, the program was seen as one that could be developed in communities everywhere. Initially efforts were concentrated in rural communities where few programs existed but where there was an abundance of caring individuals who could be called upon as advocates. The program was not designed for one particular geographic region but seen as one that could be adapted to the particular needs and resources of virtually any community. From the beginning, serving more youth and expanding the program was an important goal; resources were set aside for program development in new locations.
NYAP provides community-based services for youth, many of whom would otherwise be institutionalized or incarcerated. NYAP believes children are best served when they are kept with their family when possible and in the community they call home. This approach gives youth a greater chance for long term success. With all efforts focused on keeping youth in the least restrictive settings, NYAP pioneered the concept of matching youth to caring and committed adults who would never abandon them. The many successful results have proved this theory correct.
The success of the program in Ohio lead to rapid expansion into West Virginia and Indiana. Recognizing a need to provide an umbrella structure for the Ohio and West Virginia Youth Advocate Programs and to coordinate financial and administrative services, the National Youth Advocate Program was incorporated in Ohio in 1983.
More programs, more states, helping more youth and families.
The South Carolina Youth Advocate Program was created, by December 1992, the South Carolina Youth Advocate Program was providing specialized community services to 91 youth.
Programs in Indiana, South Carolina and West Virginia secure funds to provide programs for youth to remain with their natural families -- family preservation programs.
The Georgia Youth Advocate Program was formally incorporated.
Franklin County Children Services (Ohio) developed a new partnership with OYAP to create a new program with four shelter care homes in residential neighborhoods throughout the county to give troubled youth in crisis a place to live that would seem more “homelike” than an institutional, county-operated facility.
Ohio Youth Advocate Program signed and implemented a significant managed care contract with Franklin County Children Services (FCCS). An Advocacy Center was established to assist families in securing needed resources and develop system negotiation skills. The Care Management Program has achieved outstanding results in program audits completed by FCCS.
The Constant and Never Ending Improvement (CANEI) program was developed and founded. CANEI is an innovative program for adolescents with histories of aggressive, defiant or violent behavior served by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
The California Youth Advocate Program was initiated in San Diego County, California at the request of county officials who had heard of NYAP’s innovative services and programs and wanted to implement the programs in their county.
Marvena Twigg, former Executive Vice President, was named the new President/CEO after Dr. Awad retired. Marvena served in many capacities before assuming her new position. She was the Executive Director of the Ohio Youth Advocate Program, the Assistant Director of NYAP, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President.
NYAP began the process to merge the separate state affiliate Youth Advocate Programs into a single consolidated National Youth Advocate Program. The organization emerged stronger and the new framework allows us to continue to provide flexible and innovative services, share best practices, leverage operational efficiencies and build stronger ties to our communities and the children, youth and families we serve.
NYAP expands to Florida (Broward County), opens a new office, obtains the necessary licenses and begins working with youth and families.
NYAP completes the merger of the Youth Advocate Programs in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and Georgia creating one national organization.
One by one, our dedicated staff has brought us to the place we are today. With a strong vision and sense of purpose, we look forward to our future and to furthering our efforts to create a better tomorrow for youth, families and the communities we are proud to serve.