By Katherine E. Bono, LMSW, YASS Coordinator, The Children’s Center and Shawn Robinson, BS, Specialist II, Lead/Intake-YASS, The Children’s Center, Detroit

This is the second of a two-part post on our YASS program.

Helping young adults prosper into functioning and contributing members of society: It’s no easy task. But because of the leaders and specialists running the Young Adult Self Sufficiency (YASS) program at The Children’s Center, strides are being made. We’re proud of the impressive reputation established by this program. And YASS became the success it is by establishing and maintaining high standards: It is designed to improve the lives of youth who are ready for success.

It All Starts With Acceptance into the Program

Teens come to YASS by referral only: Either from the Department of Human Services or local foster care agencies. Those who wish to be a part of the YASS program must be accepted based on established criteria. They must complete an interview with the YASS specialists and they must show they are working hard in school and will take the program seriously. The Children’s Center is resolute about working with youth who are receptive to the work and dedication required to complete the YASS program. This is a key to the success of the program.

Once the youth is part of the program, they are expected to move from supervised living to independent living. The specific requirements include finishing school, gaining legal employment or acceptance into higher education, opening a bank account and maintaining finances and being able to live independently in an apartment and pay rent.

High Standards Equal High Success Rates

By maintaining these high standards and supporting YASS youth through every step and obstacle, The Children’s Center has seen great success for young people in the program since starting in 2006.  In 2012-2013 alone, 85% of YASS youth went on to higher education with 10% of the remaining population working full time. Program graduates have gone on to receive scholarships to Michigan State, Central Michigan University and several other higher education programs. There are many individual success stories in those statistics, but one in particular stands out. A graduate of the YASS program not only graduated from college and received a master’s degree — she received a full scholarship and earned a doctorate degree, went on to study veterinarian medicine and now enjoys a career as a veterinarian.

Passion: It’s Why Our Specialists Excel

One of the reasons the program is so successful is the passion of The Children’s Center’s YASS specialists. Our specialists come from all walks of life and backgrounds. One specialist began his career in mortuary science and was tired of planning funerals for so many young people who became victims of the streets and their environment. Another specialist worked as an EMT and was saddened by the effects of youth violence. Many of our specialists have spent their careers working with families and children and bring that expertise to the YASS program. What all of The Children’s Center’s YASS specialists have in common is a desire to make a difference and help Detroit’s youth succeed and thrive as adults. 

What’s next for YASS? Growing and Expanding

The Children’s Center’s YASS program continues to grow. We have expanded into surrounding counties and are actively working with youth in many of Detroit’s suburbs. Our YASS committee is seeking host providers in Detroit’s suburbs throughout Southeast Michigan. If you are interested in learning more, contact our office at 313.262.1078.
The YASS leaders have made it a goal to provide more cultural experiences and possibly educational field trips for YASS youth working toward independence.

The YASS program’s objective is to provide the tangibles and intangibles that a family provides. Life skills and the ability to thrive as an adult are not inherent. The Children’s Center provides our youth with this when they don’t have anywhere else to turn.

For more information about the YASS program and The Children’s Center please visit our Web site. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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