Youth Welfare Approach FAQs

Do you have questions about the YWA? Check out our brief FAQs below.

What is the YWA?

YWA is an acronym for the Youth Welfare Approach. It was formerly called the Youth Welfare model.

Because of the unique needs of youth, the Virginia Department of Social Services is embarking on a different framework to engage youth, entitled the Youth Welfare Approach (YWA). This approach more adequately addresses the strengths and needs of youth and youth adults.

Who is involved?

DSS workers in VA will be trained in and will follow the YWA. Youth don’t need to be trained, but should experience the changes in how things are done in their LDSS and with their worker.

Why is VDSS moving to this approach?

Historically, child welfare focused on providing services to children in foster care, but over time there has been an increase in older youth in care. Though youth in the child welfare system need to be kept safe, during adolescence the focus of care needs to emphasize promoting permanency, normalcy and prioritizing a successful transition to adulthood.

How will the foster care system change?

The Youth Welfare Approach recommends shifting our lens from a child-focused system to a youth-focused system in four key areas: from being reactive to proactive; from being case-driven to youth-driven, from being protection-focused to normalcy-focused, and from being focused on the past and present to focused on the future. It is a customized approach that acknowledges youth are the experts of their lives, and it is responsive to the developmental, social, and practical needs of these young people.

What is Project LIFE’s role with the YWA?

Project LIFE has a unique relationship with the LDSSs and private providers around the state and is an expert in training. We will be assisting with supportive services around the Youth Welfare Approach as we adopt this framework. The staff will be a resource for professionals in the field. More specifics will be shared as they are developed.

When does the YWA start?

The YWA is launching in Virginia in July, 2021. Training will begin in 2021.

Where can I go for more info?

For more information on the YWA, click the link to access  the “Embracing the Youth Welfare System” Guide.
We’ll also be updating the PL website to include more info, training opportunities, and more.

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