The arena of social services has changed significantly since YCS began caring for vulnerable women and children nearly 100 years ago. Many of the changes have been very positive. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health and mental health conditions have enabled us to provide more effective therapies for the chil-dren in our care. And, although scientists are still grappling with the causes for autism, early detection, advances in technology, and treatment have helped many children on the spectrum have a better quality of life.
In the early 70’s, the state’s primary concern was placing children who were being mistreated in a safe and nurturing environment. Residential care was relatively new back then and there was little understanding of how to address the children’s emotional and psychological needs.
We have always been guided by the principal that every child’s challenging behaviors masks his or her potential.
More than anything, our children want to be accepted for the persons they are and validated for the past experiences they’ve endured. This is the empathetic culture that drives our services.
As a result of our commitment to empathetic care, YCS has grown from an organization with only one therapeutic residence and two mental health clinics to a statewide agency that cares for more than 6,500 children and families each year.
As autism awareness has grown so has the need for services. YCS Sawtelle Services has expanded from a learning center to include an extensive in-home behavioral therapy program and 20 group homes for children an young adults across the state. There is still much work to be done.
Last year, we received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from families desperately seeking help for their loved ones.
Recent research has shown a strong correlation between mental health issues, challenging behaviors and previously undiagnosed intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It is estimated that 50% of all persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities have a psychiatric disorder. For children on the autism spectrum, the rate of dual diagnosis is between 60-70%. Considering that 1 in 48 boys in NJ are affected by autism this number is staggering.
For NJ youth affected by depression, the numbers are also sobering. Each year approximately 47,000 children, ages 12 to 17, experience a major depressive episode, while less than half (41.8%) receive treatment.
These troubling statistics demonstrate the need for more services and guide the future path of YCS.
We’ve begun laying the groundwork for our 100th Anniversary in 2018, and we look forward to ex-panding our programming wherever possible to meet the ever increasing need for services for children with complex mental health issues.
Our success is the success of the hundreds of volunteers, supporters and YCS employees who have over the years dedicated their time, passion and resources for the betterment of the children.
To you all, I offer my sincere thanks.Richard