By Anna Skinner
On Aug. 30, The Youth Assistance Program of Hamilton County held an inaugural stakeholders meeting for county mayors, prosecutors, YAP mentors, district school superintendents and more to recognize the impact the program has had on the county since its launch in 2009.
The Hamilton County Juvenile Services Center is only at 14 percent capacity, and detained youth is half of what it was in 2009 when YAP launched its pilot program in Westfield. More than 150 members of the community attended the event to recognize the program’s successes.
“This breakfast culminates the successful expansion of the Youth Assistance Program to the four corners of our county and spots in between, in all six school (districts) in Hamilton County, as well as nearby counties,” Legacy Fund President Terry Anker said. “As president of the Legacy Fund, I’m very passionate about the accomplishments of the folks in this room. Youth assistance can now claim service to thousands of children and their families. It serves all citizens of Hamilton County because those kids are being made productive.”
Anker went on to call out every councilor, school staff, chamber of commerce staff, judges, mayors and more in the room by name to recognize the accomplishments.
Anker detailed the purpose of YAP, then invited Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and Judge Steve Nation to the podium to speak to the audience.
“It’s going to take us an entire generation to truly feel the impact of what we’ve been able to accomplish in a few short years in this county,” Cook said. “What we are doing is taking a very small amount of money and calling upon our partners such as the Legacy Fund, our business partners, the hearts and souls of our citizens and the many people who have an urge to do something in their community but don’t know exactly how to get connected.”
Cook said one of the most important goals of YAP is to find sustainable funding for its early intervention advocates.
“These kids need mentors, they need people to give them vision, they need tutors to keep them in school and people to coordinate services to help them work through the system,” Nation said. “This started with one school, and now we are into six schools and outside the county. We are going to go ahead and correct this so when we are older than we are now, those children who would’ve been lost and in prison, we can now shake their hands and see they’re part of our community and making our community better, and I don’t want any child to be lost.”
For more on the Hamilton County YAP, visit youthassistance.org.