No Throwaway Kids

The Safely Home Campaign is a national movement to keep youth safe and with their families by building and supporting strong communities, returning kids from out-of-home placements, and keeping youth safely home with the support they need to reach their full potential and improving community safety.

The Campaign promotes a framework that any community or system can adopt to promote racial equity, family cohesion, community capacity, neighborhood safety and better use of resources all while improving outcomes for young people and reducing the use of institutions. Initiated by Youth Advocate Program (YAP), the Safely Home Campaign relies on collaborations with systems, policymakers, advocates and practitioners to achieve its six goals.

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On any given day in the United States over 500,000 youth live away from home, separated from their families and communities. They are the youth with the most complex needs, such as exposure to trauma, mental health challenges, addiction, disconnection from school, family instability, inequality and poverty. When the services these young people need are not available in their home communities, systems often send them away from their families and neighborhoods to meet their needs in an institutional setting. We will improve outcomes for individuals and communities by redesigning our systems to make sure youth with complex needs are connected to services that will allow them to remain safely in their home environments.
Why We Need the Safely Home Campaign
  • Kids do better and achieve better outcomes when they are valuable parts of their families and seen as assets in their own communities.
  • Too many kids live away from home or are not living in safe communities.
  • Poor and minority youth are overrepresented in out-of-home placements and unsafe communities.
  • LGBTQ youth face unique challenges that put them at elevated risk of out-of-home placements or homelessness.
  • Too many youth are aging out of care without permanent connections.
  • Investing in keeping kids safely home with the support they need is also a wiser long-term investment of scarce resources.
  • When communities invest in the families most likely to lack the resources and supports that everyone needs to do well, community safety increases.
  • Programs that prioritize cultural competence can help youth who face discrimination including young people of color and LGBTQ youth, so all youth have a fair chance to reach their potential.
To keep young people safely home, youth serving systems can build creative solutions based on the individual needs and resources of each youth. Building these solutions requires a multi-faceted strategy that includes families, public policy, redirecting resources, individualizing services and support to communities and agencies with a desire to improve youth outcomes.
How We Can Do Better: Focus on Needs not Services
  • Engage families to have voice and choice and value their expertise.
  • Support and develop public policies that incentivize keeping families together.
  • Redirect resources for out-of-home placements to intensive community programs.
  • Replace out-of-home placements with programs equipped to reach young people.
  • Support government agencies and communities as they build their capacities to serve young people and families in the community.
  • Focus on helping meet the needs of young people and their families, including by creating new services that don’t yet exist in a community.
Communities and systems that work to bring youth safely home have a greater impact on improving youth outcomes. Matching the right service for each youth strengthens families, builds community capacity to help other youth in need, and prevents damaging the foundations of a youth’s development that can result from disconnection from family and community. The impact of bringing youth safely home can also positively affect individuals, businesses, communities and governments in unique and important ways.
The Impact
  • Government agencies, especially those working with youth and young people in child welfare, behavioral health and juvenile justice systems can safely meet their missions.
  • Kids and families stay together and achieve better outcomes.
  • Community-based programs that include culturally competent staff as a core principle can directly help reduce overrepresentation of youth of color in the system.
  • Individual and community safety increases.
  • Community-based programs keep youth and jobs in the community.
  • Costs go down and communities can invest in building capacity for all youth and vulnerable populations.
  • Kids and families have the tools and support to help them contribute their talents and skills to their communities.
  • Typically underserved populations like girls and youth who identify as LGBTQ can receive services tailored to their unique needs, including creating safety plans or services related to sexual abuse.
SHC Fact Sheet
SHC Fact Sheet

A brief overview of the Campaign in a printable 4-page booklet.

SHC Fact Sheet
SHC Infographic

This infographic compares what a community has to offer vs. a youth prison.

SHC Fact Sheet

This report outlines the elements of effective community-based alternatives for youth experiencing serious and complex needs in the juvenile justice system.

SHC Fact Sheet

This report advocates for transforming our approach to young people in conflict with the law by growing community capacity and resources.


The Safely Home Campaign is a social justice movement led by Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) and focused on bringing and keeping young people safely home. Since 1975, YAP has partnered with youth, families and governments to provide families with the support they need to stay together and achieve stability. Our focus has been working with young people with the most complex needs in the behavioral health, child welfare and juvenile justice systems, YAP’s approach includes support for young people with complex needs and their families through our wraparound advocacy model and subsidized employment.

100% of our services take place in the homes and neighborhoods of the youth and families we work with.