Community-based program seeks to help reach more families

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ROANOKE VALLEY, Va. (WFXR News) – A community-based organization that helps struggling families in the Roanoke Valley is looking to help even more.

Youth Advocate Programs offers resources for things like counseling, parental coaching and more. They cover the New River Valley, Roanoke Valley and have offices in Lynchburg.

Staff from YAP say they want to help strengthen families and empower parents, but they are looking to get the word out about their services to help more people.

They shared the story of one family that’s been using their services for more than a year.

Michelle Labreque’s two oldest children suffer from complex health and developmental challenges. She says she doesn’t know where her family would be if it wasn’t for YAP.

“I felt like I myself as a mom was headed for a nervous breakdown so to speak,” Labreque said.

She says her oldest daughter suffers from disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and ADHAD. At one point her daughter’s behavioral disorder got so bad she says she was overwhelmed and felt out of options.

“That ended up causing her three acute hospitalizations within a four-month period and residential treatment for a six month period at 7-years-old,” said Labreque.

Labreque says her family struggled for years, tried many different services but nothing worked until she found YAP.

Now, her daughter has in-home intensive therapy that provides calming strategies. And her son, who is on the autism spectrum and also has ADHAD, depression and learning disabilities, also gets in-home care to meet his needs. She says she also plans on starting proactive services for her younger daughter.

“Since getting them it’s improved drastically. So we’re not perfect. We still have a very long way to go with YAP,” said Labreque.

“But they have been absolutely phenomenal in helping regain some of our family unity and kind of helping us to thrive instead of just surviving.”

Labreque says they can do more regular things, like family game nights and go to community events and she says she’s able to communicate better with her kids.

Labreque was also able to go back to school recently. She got a scholarship through YAP to buy a new laptop. She says she never would have been able to do that if it wasn’t for YAP.

“Michelle is one of our biggest success stories. She’s come so far and they’ve come far as a family,” said YAP Clinical Supervisor Jayne Ratliff.

Ratliff says they offer lots of programs for families like Michelle’s.

“We like to take a holistic approach when we look at a kid and a family,” said Ratliff.

“If a kid is having issues in one area, what’s going on in all the other areas? Where can we work to help them with everything else that’s going on.”

She says they want to reach more people and help more families in the community.

“People can call and make their own referrals for themselves. It doesn’t have to be a referral through a school or through the department of juvenile justice or something like that. If a parent is just feeling like, ‘hey I need to call I need to talk to someone, I don’t even know what I need.’ They can call us,” Ratliff said.

YAP accepts public and private insurance, including Medicaid. They also stress that the services are cost-effective. Click here for more information.

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