What is Youth First? We're a homegrown, not-for-profit organization helping make Southwest Indiana a healthier, safer place to live and raise children. Through our substance abuse prevention programs and services, Youth First helps young people succeed in school and in life.
How did Youth First get started? Our founder, Dr. William Wooten, rallied community leaders to address a troubling problem - youth substance abuse. In his medical practice, he saw more and more kids, at younger and younger ages, with more and more complicated problems. The founding Board members agreed on the need for more effective prevention and launched Youth First in 1998. Today Youth First is our region's prevention leader.
What is effective prevention? Effective prevention reduces risk factors, increases life skills, and ultimately, builds resiliency in kids and families, so they can successfully navigate challenges at school and in life. Youth First offers prevention programs that have a proven track record, and we evaluate all of our programs to make sure we get the best results. Strengthening Families is a good example and true to its name. Strengthening Families programs bring parents or caregivers and their children together for 9 to 10 sessions to improve communication and parenting skills. When family bonds are strong, kids are less likely to engage in destructive behaviors like substance abuse.
Why does Youth First place social workers in area schools? Youth First's team of more than 30 highly trained Master's level professionals provide vital support for kids, families, and teachers. They are on-site everyday at over 45 schools, helping students stay on track socially and emotionally, so they can achieve academically. Kids come to school with all sorts of baggage that hinder learning, including difficult home environments, harmful relationships, the loss of a loved one, depression, anger, aggression, hunger, and much more. Youth First Social Workers help children overcome their problems, so they become better students and eventually, productive citizens. Students can be referred to a social worker by parents, teachers and principals.
How can students and families access Youth First's programs? Youth First Social Workers are just down the hall in over 45 schools, and our Strengthening Families programs are offered in the evenings at many schools, churches, and other community agencies in the region. We even have a Spanish-language version of Strengthening Families. Thanks to support from donors and grants, these programs and services are free and open to all youth and their families. Please contact Youth First by phone (812) 421-TEEN or visit our program pages for more information.
How can the community help? Youth First depends on the community's generosity to help thousands of children and families every year. We need donations of time, talent, and treasure to continue this lifesaving work. Everyone who makes a donation to Youth First becomes a lifesaver, too. You can give by clicking here - or by calling 812-421-8336. With Youth First, you can be sure the Results Last.
Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.