Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $498,972)
Youth Advocates of Sitka (YAS) provides both residential and nonresidential services, including residential congregate living, independent living skills, and mental health services for at-risk and vulnerable youth in Alaska. The overall goal of this program is to promote positive youth outcomes and public safety for at-risk adolescents and youth transitioning from foster care. YAS will provide vulnerable, at-risk youth transitioning out of foster care who are younger than age 25 and who are referred from all over the state of Alaska with stable, safe living accommodations and support services that help them develop the skills necessary to establish sustainable living and well-being for themselves.
In 2017, Alaska recorded that 11.8 percent of persons who were served by homeless service providers were youth ages 18–24, and over 43 percent were identified as Alaska Native. There is a need for a transitional living program for the older adolescent population in Alaska. In particular, there are not many services for those who transition from the foster care environment and many end up experiencing homelessness. The Sitka school district estimates there are an average of 30 youth per year who experience homelessness. Many of the youth who will benefit from a residential transitional program come from a variety of settings such as residential treatment centers, youth who have aged out of the foster care system, currently homeless youth or youth living in unsafe environments, or youth who have been abandoned by their parents. The program objectives are as follows:
Objective 1: Develop, implement, and build replicable treatment models for residential-based innovative care, treatment, and services for youth.
Objective 2: Increase protective factors to ensure vulnerable and at-risk youth and youth transitioning from foster care have the skills they need to prevent further victimization and/or involvement in the child welfare or juvenile justice system.
YAS will provide safe, stable, and appropriate shelter for youth and young adults, and provide comprehensive, trauma-informed, youth-centered services, including provision of basic needs, screening and assessment, case management, transition planning, and life skills training. Unique to YAS programming, any at-risk or vulnerable youth can enter into several options for housing. The core programming for YAS includes a transitional living plan, independent and interpersonal skill building, mental health and substance use counseling, recreating and creating healthy lifestyle habits, medical care, educational advancement, case management services and community referrals, community service, and aftercare services.
This funding will allow for YAS to establish a demonstration program to develop and build program capacity to support at-risk and vulnerable youth transitioning out of foster care, including staffing; expand their current programming to increase the number of youth served; implement a replicable model for residential-based innovative care, treatment, and services; and create program sustainability.