PA Youth Support Partners 08

Orientation to the Pennsylvania
Youth Support Partner (YSP) Role
Shannon M. Fagan, MS, Director, Youth and Family
Training Institute
Aaron Thomas, Youth Support Partner Coach,
Allegheny County, PA
Paige Costa, Youth Support Partner, Montgomery
County, PA
A Little History
The Youth and Family Training Institute (YFTI):
• In 2007 a Request for Proposals (RFP) that was issued by Pennsylvania’s
Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
• The RFP was specifically requesting applicants to develop a model that
would allow youth with complex mental health challenges and their families
to be equal members of their planning team.
• Various partners, including youth and family leaders, Western Psychiatric
Institute and Clinic of UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh, Community Care,
a Medicaid managed care company, and others, met to design what is now
called the Youth and Family Training Institute.
• The Youth and Family Training Institute would be responsible to train,
coach, credential and monitor fidelity to the High Fidelity Wraparound Model
- a model that truly puts youth and their families at the forefront of planning
for their own lives.
• The original model was presented………..
High Fidelity
Wraparound (HFW)
The original HFW model included:
• Coach: A skill based teacher and support provider to the staff and
the “guardian of fidelity” to the process of High Fidelity Wraparound.
• Facilitator: The person who ensures the 10 High Fidelity
Wraparound Principles and the activities of the process are
delivered to youth and families with the highest possible fidelity to
the national best practices.
• Family Support Partner: has experienced similar challenges as
the families they are working with and can support on many levels:
by being a partner on the team, helping with direct support guided
by the plan and by connecting families with other families.
But…The youth leaders wanted more…
The PA Youth Support
Partner (YSP) was
• The Youth Support Partner role was created because youth asked for it. The
youth proposed a role similar to the family support partner, but would consist of
youth that have faced their own behavioral health challenges and possible
systems involvement.
• So, Pennsylvania’s HFW team is made up of a coach, facilitator, family
support partner and a youth support partner. Each has a key and integrated
role in supporting a youth and their family in the HFW process.
• In the spring of 2008, YFTI staff met with youth leaders to discuss the
qualifications for an effective YSP. A survey was distributed across the state
asking for input regarding specific aspects of the Youth Support Partner role.
The data was used to help create the specific job qualifications for and
functions of the YSP.
YSP Qualifications
• The YSP is generally 2 to 5 years older than the young adult they are
working with, are under 25 when they become a YSP and are a
graduate of the HFW process or have experienced similar life
experiences as the young adults they are working with
• Should have a high school education or GED
• Must have reliable transportation
• Must be successfully managing their own behavioral health challenges
• Should have knowledge about youth resources within their own
The Functions of a YSP
• To role model effective behavior for the youth
• To ensure and empower youth voice and choice within their planning
process and their actual plan
• To support improved self efficacy and confidence
• To promote and strengthen healthy relationships
• To help people working with youth understand youth culture
• Working as a liaison between professionals and youth
• To use their personal story to teach through experience
• To work as a team with the facilitator and family support partner to
support positive outcomes for youth
Characteristics of a YSP
• Experience with behavioral health challenges and self awareness
• Strong communication skills
• Ability to work with a team of family members and human service
• Team player
• Outspoken, flexible, motivated, self-disciplined
• Sense of humor, good common sense
• Clean background check
• Ability to share story appropriately, with passion, not emotion
• Good working knowledge of youth opportunities
• Ability to take feedback while learning skills
• Open-minded
YSP Characteristics
Time management and organizational skills
Ability to establish relationships with other agencies
Ability to understand other cultures
Skilled at leading and inspiring by example
Show professionalism in meetings
YSP Training
• All HFW workforce members receive 5 days of team training
• Mastering of skill-sets created by YFTI for the YSP role as demonstrated
by live observation, videotaping and documentation reviews
• 3 hours of coaching/supervision a week until credentialed
• Completed credentialing packet that is submitted to and maintained by
• On-going learning activities to be supported and documented by team
YSP’s work from skill sets that are unique to their role, they receive
coaching that keeps them true to the skill sets and are working with
the youth and their families as described in their plan.
• High turnover rate- due to various reasons like not having skills for
position, not having transportation, not stable in their own recovery, lack
of their own natural supports
• Developing a YSP Network for our HFW counties to support the YSP role
• Helping others understand the unique role of the YSP
• Supporting YSP supervisors regarding hiring youth for these roles
• YSP’s understanding boundary issues
• YSP’s and self care
• YSP’s and college
• Teaching time management skills
• Youth are great, everyone wants them to do things above and beyond
the scope of the YSP role ( presentations, being a part of boards etc)
Possible Solutions
Youth Support Partner Coach
Aaron Thomas is one of 3 unique coaches in PA, the first one ever
credentialed specifically for working with the Youth Support Partner Role.
This is unique to Allegheny County in PA.
Development of a Youth Employment Specialist
within a System of Care. The Youth Employment Specialist will:
• work with youth in professional positions and their employers to better
understand their strengths and needs in the workplace
• document and teach youth and employers about successful work habits,
mental hygiene techniques and workplace accommodations
One Youth Support
Partner’s Story
Paige Costa, Youth Support Partner, Montgomery
County, PA
Why interested in this position?
What are some unique aspects of your work?

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