External Youth Advocates
MHAPA’s mission is to work on behalf of the mental health of Pennsylvania’s citizens, instilling principles that facilitate recovery and resiliency of individuals and their families, through advocacy, education, and public policy. For young people placed in state run juvenile justice facilities, the tenets of this mission are partly embodied in External Youth Advocates, independent advocates who educate youth and their families about their rights and advocate for them when issues arise. MHAPA oversees four External Youth Advocates, who ensure youth in state facilities are treated with dignity and respect and that their civil rights are honored.
“We start by making sure that each child and family receives notification of their rights as soon as they come into the facility,” says youth advocate project manager Madelyn Roman-Scott. “The rights are also posted throughout the facility.”
Each advocate is assigned a facility, which they visit a few times a week. During each visit, the advocate speaks to youth and staff. “We take a pulse of how things are going for the kids and see if there are any problems,” says Roman. “Problems range, for example, from not getting time on the phone to not getting enough food to concerns with parents/guardians and staff. We take all of the issues seriously and work within the system and with the facility staff to make sure the kids are treated fairly and their rights respected.”
Among the many ways External Youth Advocates support young people is by responding to the youth’s and family’s questions, concerns, and complaints regarding the facilities and services; resolving issues; assisting youth in filing grievances; working with youth and their families to ensure an individualized educational plan; and working with youth, family members, and others to facilitate their return to their home communities.
For a complete list of the External Youth Advocates managed by MHAPA, click here. For questions and more information, contact MHAPA by phone at 866-578-3659 or email at email@example.com.
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