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Safely Home: Helping the most forgotten youth be safe and at home

By Dorienne J. Silva, MSW On any given day in the United States more than 500,000 children and young people in the child welfare, behavioral health and juvenile justice systems are separated from their families, with many living in residential and institutional settings. Thousands more live in dangerous, unsafe communities. For the sake of our children and our collective future, we must pursue a more constructive response that helps youth with complex needs stay safe and in their home communities. To that end, we at Youth Advocate Programs are taking our mission to the next level by initiating a collaborative campaign to bring our children "safely home." With the launch of our Safely Home Campaign, we are leading a call for collaborative action. We at YAP believe that a collective effort of a broad cross-sector of policy makers, providers and community stakeholders is essential to bring youth safely home from out-of-home placements and prevent future unnecessary placements. We also believe that we have a shared responsibility to address the disparate practices that cause a disproportionate number of youth of color to be placed out-of-home. And we believe that the time is ripe to redirect our investment in residential centers, correctional facilities and other types of congregate care to a more robust continuum of community services empowered to help youth with complex needs in their home communities, with the participation and support of their families. For 38 years, YAP h...
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