The Youth Advocate Program follows a rigid and extensive protocol when bringing anyone aboard, D’Urso said.
“We do the same background check for all new interns, volunteers and employees,” he said.
That includes not only a criminal check but a look at the person’s motor-vehicle record, he said, as that information may reveal a red flag that wouldn’t turn up through the former search.
“We also do whatever local or state law requires” beyond agency policy, he continued.
“We have a careful interview process,” D’Urso said.
And direct supervision on the job is supplemented by a third-party monitoring system.
The monitors, he said, “work entirely independently of the local program.
“They call the families to make sure everybody is given an opportunity to say whether things are going well or not so well.”
And there’s a toll-free hotline, again operated by a concern unrelated to Youth Advocate, available to employees, clients, families and anyone else associated with the program, D’Urso said, that allows them to express concerns, anonymously if they wish to do so.
Advocates often do work one on one with clients, the CEO said; many contracts with clients require that.
“There are benefits to be obtained from group time and benefits from one-on-one time,” D’Urso said.
Most young people served by the agency face possible institutionalization for various reasons, he said, whether due to emotional instability or behavioral issues at home, school or in the community.
The nonprofit helps them meet their responsibilities, among them attending school, perhaps getting to court hearings, following the dictates of probation.
The organization works in a community rather than clinical setting, D’Urso said, “so that people can discover their own strengths ... then inevitably, you have circumstances that require close supervision, and we do our best to provide it.”