Welcome to the Youth Development Center

Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, York County Offices will be closed to the public until further notice. Modified operations for essential services and programs have been implemented in all County Departments.

This Building is Closed to the public sm 3 18 2020 ydc

Contact Us:

Youth Development Center (YDC)
3564 Heindel Road
York, PA 17402
(717) 840-7570

Program Overview:

The administration and staff of the York County Youth Development Center (YDC) subscribe to the principles of the Sanctuary Model. In keeping with that philosophy, the YDC staff is committed to the protection of our community, the development of our children, and to assist them in the progress in “competencies” that shall lead them to being productive members of society. The entire program is designed to provide a safe and healthy environment for all youth, where short-term emotional, physical, educational, social, and spiritual needs are accommodated.

Sanctuary Model:

The staff at YDC embrace the Sanctuary Model as our method for helping clients and their families through this difficult time in their lives. We recognize that each child is unique and brings with them a past that has included trauma. Staff also believe that the disruption of the home setting and separation of parent and child causes additional trauma. We’re here to support our clients and families towards a better future.

What Is Sanctuary?

The Sanctuary Model is a trauma-informed method for creating or changing an organization’s culture. Sanctuary pulls from a number of different fields and philosophies to facilitate this cultural change. It takes what we know about human nature, how people heal from trauma,  the power of communities, and chaotic nature of change, and applies some basic Tools, principles, and the  Seven Commitments to create a shared language. The Sanctuary terminology focuses primarily on S.E.L.F. This acronym stands for safety, emotional management, loss, and future. Every employee has gone through intense training that introduces trauma theory and addresses ways in which adversity and chronic stress can influence behaviors in the clients we serve. Sanctuary also recognizes the ways in which the whole organization is at risk of being influenced by the effects of trauma, adversity, and chronic stress. We’ve learned that “If you want deeply rooted change, you need to apply deeply rooted methods” (J. Goldstein, 1994 The Unshackled Organization).


This change is based on a set of guiding principles as well as some specific tools that reinforce the philosophy when practiced by staff as well as clients on a daily basis. Community Meetings take place at least twice per day, and allows an opportunity for the group to come together and take a pulse of the community before beginning a shift. Staff and clients model caring for one another, setting goals, while supporting each other with their goals. Safety Plans list activities from which staff and clients can choose when feeling overwhelmed so that they can avoid engaging in unsafe behavior. Everyone needs help in regulating their emotions at times. Team Meetings are active and focused meetings conducted twice per month by staff. Everyone is expected to contribute, share their insights, and generate new ideas. We encourage all staff to feel comfortable talking and listening. It’s an open forum for addressing concerns, discussing projects, and communicating new initiatives. Red Flag Meetings are held to address critical incidents or to identify collective disturbances. They are short, and solutions oriented, rather than focusing on describing the problem. This tool is based on the idea that many people coming together to address a problem are more likely to come up with innovative solutions. Psycho-Education Groups are done once daily on each shift and are facilitated by staff. We use this tool with clients to help them understand the things that have happened to them and the ways their experiences are affecting their current lives. Teaching our clients about trauma and its effect gives them the opportunity to learn the same language that the staff are using. They’ll begin to understand their behaviors and emotions in the context of their experiences as well as learn new skills to keep them safe, manage emotions, deal with losses, and work towards a better future. Although the groups are powerfully therapeutic, they do not replace professional therapy.

Seven Commitments

While implementing Sanctuary, it is important to understand this concept of deeply rooted change, which is based on the idea that healing from trauma, stress, and adversity requires us all to commit to being socially responsible. Creating an environment conducive to healing takes the involvement of the entire community, and together we can accomplish more. We must all commit to non-violence if we hope to create a community that promotes healing, because people cannot operate at their optimum when they are constantly in fear. Our commitment to open communication and  shared governance gives everyone a voice that is heard, and it’s much easier for everyone to be on the same page if we’ve all contributed in one way or another in decision making. The Sanctuary Model makes the correlation that “What’s happened to us” is usually closely related to “What’s wrong with us,” and so changing the question in our minds is definitely a powerful initiative towards growth  and change. Staff is committed to social learning and we are willing to model the very thing that we are asking of our clients. We all must commit to become emotionally intelligent by managing our emotions so we do not harm ourselves or others.

S.E.L.F. Model

The S.E.L.F. Model provides such a framework in that it offers four categories for focus and intervention with both clients and families and the organization itself. It provides a simple and accessible language for all of the people working together towards change with comprehensive and universal categories.

S (Safety) means being safe. We must replace self-harm with self-care. Safety is the foundation of healing, but we’ve learned that there are four domains that are imperative to really being safe:

                Emotional Safety – feeling safe on the inside

                Emotional Safety – feeling safe with others

                Moral Safety – feeling safe enough to do what’s right

E (Emotional Management) means recognizing and handling feelings in a non-harmful way, and trading in action for words

L (Loss) means acknowledging and grieving past losses or traumas and committing to working against getting stuck in the past while recognizing that all change involves loss

F (Future) means re-establishing the capacity for choice and engaging in new behaviors rather than repeating old patterns