our story

It is truly humbling to see the incredible stories we hear from clients, the feedback we get from the community, and the number of families who benefit from our support.

Sarah Steuer

Youth Advocate Services (YAS) is a nationally accredited, state-certified, 501(c)(3), non-profit child/family caring agency who has served thousands of children and families since 1978. For 40 years, YAS has believed in the premise that all children, and especially those who are vulnerable or at-risk, should live in a family-centered, caring and nurturing home. 

The idea for establishing YAS began in 1975, as a movement among several foster parents who felt that youth in Franklin County were not receiving the best possible care through facilities that were available at the time. They were especially concerned that older youth with more problems were not being well-served. Their concerns, along with those of the Women's Resource and Policy Development Center, led to a demonstration project in 1976. The focus of the project was to attract highly-qualified foster parents, equip them to deal with problems of disturbed teens by providing ongoing education and support, and build strong relationships among families during the same kind of work. The goal was to provide youth who had been in the juvenile justice system - or those who were headed in that direction - the opportunity to live in a caring foster home instead of an institution. 

The first network of 10 foster homes with one alternate home was selected from the Clintonville area in 1977 and the first youth was placed in February, 1978. In addition to full-time care, the foster parents - called "advocates" - offered counseling, tutoring, behavior management, job placement, community education, social activities, life enrichment groups, and family reunification support to youth in their care. Youth ranged from ages 12 to 18. The youth advocate families had a philosophy of helping the youth understand and cope with themselves, their families, and community. They encouraged youth to develop skills, attitudes and behaviors that would set them on a path to a successful adult life. 

In October of 1978, YAS was officially recognized as a foster care agency. At that time, YAS was described as a network of youth advocate homes, providing residential care and social services to a group of children in need of care and services outside their own homes. 

By 1980, YAS began receiving children placed by the Franklin County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Boards, and those placed from Ross, Cuyahoga, Licking, Knox, and Delaware County Children Services. This expansion was due to the effective and innovative services provided and to the agency's reputation as the first treatment foster care network for older and troubled youth. YAS continued to grow and add programs in the years that followed. 

In the late 1990s, YAS developed its Early Start and Help Me Grow programs (now known as Help Me Grow Home Visiting and Early Intervention under the Early Childhood program umbrella) which provides supportive services to at-risk families with children in the critically important early learning years of zero to three years old. The mid-2000s also brought an expansion to the foster care program as YAS began providing respite care for youth. 

In 2007, YAS was successfully accredited by the Council on Accreditation, a national body that accredits human services organizations that can meet its high standards. Because of this accreditation, the agency was able to provide foster care and counseling services, case management, and psychiatric care. In 2008, YAS was certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health (now the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services) and was able to begin offering home-based and school-based Mental Health Services (now Community-based Behavioral Health) funded by Medicaid. 

Today, YAS continues to offer Therapeutic and Traditional Foster Care and Community Respite for ages birth to 18 in nearly 10 counties in Ohio, as well as Early Childhood case management and Behavioral Health services to children and families in Franklin County. Over the years YAS has expanded to also provide Adoption Support services, in-agency Psychiatric Counseling and Medication Management services. New opportunities are continuously explored and pursued to enhance or add services to meet the ever changing needs of children, families, and the community. 


Sarah Steuer, MSSA, LSW


Promoting Positive Futures


To support children, youth and families to realize their potential, hopes and dreams.


In order to improve every life we serve, Youth Advocate Services dedicates itself to a culture that puts customer service and quality care above all else. 


we believe...

  • In family.

  • ALL children have the right to be in a safe, secure, family-centered environment.

  • Sound, culturally competent, clinically relevant services should be available and easily accessible to children and families.

  • Short term interventions we provide should focus on promotion of health, wellness, and self-sufficiency of families.

  • It is important to ONLY use placement as a form of treatment for children and families. 

a note from our ceo

what we're about

Youth Advocate Services