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Alternatives for Youth

Program Overview

Alternatives for Youth (AFY) diverts PINS youth from the juvenile justice system and improves family functioning by providing home-based crisis intervention and community resources.

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Clients Served Last Year:


Program Contact:

Demishia Owens, M.S., CASAC-T
Program Director

Funding Generously Provided by:

Suffolk County Department of Social Services, and private donations.

Contact Information:

60 Plant Avenue
Hauppauge, NY 11788
(631) 648-2700

Demishia Owens, Program Director of Chance to Advance
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Program Description

The Problem:

Troubled youth often find themselves in the juvenile justice system, which breaks their families apart. There exists a lack of appropriate services for youth and families.

Our Solution:

Provide linkages to services for substance abuse treatment, anger management, mentoring, individual and family counseling, mental health evaluations, and more.

How We Do it:

AFY starts with immediate, home-based crisis intervention by a Case Manager to stabilize the family crisis, implement a Family Intervention Plan, and link the family with community resources, which help provide ongoing support. Because many adolescents need someone closer to their age to guide them in the right direction, AFY has a group of male and female Peer Specialists who work hard to engage the youth in positive recreational and educational activities, including both one-on-one and group activities. For young women, the H.E.R.S. (Helping Each other Reach Success) peer group focuses on making healthy choices. For young men, the Boys to Men group focuses on the journey of building strong character to improve their life skills. Furthermore, AFY conducts training sessions to empower parents and enable them to better handle their family’s specialized issues and needs.

How You Can Help:

AFY is in need of school supplies as well as clothes for teenagers, both male and female. To support AFY with a gift, click here or call (516) 539-0150 x117.


The Outcomes of Alternatives for Youth

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AFY has an over 90% success rate in diverting our youth from the juvenile justice system

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AFY has made over 12,700 referrals to community resources that have subsequently helped keep families together.


AFY’s success saves the County about one million dollars each year!

What People Say About Alternatives for Youth

Going to AFY’s Boys Group changed me because I thought I was going to be the only teen there, but I wasn’t. It was so easy to relate to the others. We told each other stories and it changed my view towards life. It showed me how drugs and alcohol were poor substances and that really got to me because they were right. Having an AFY Peer Specialist also helped me. He could relate to me as a teen because he went through some of the same problems. He took me to Mixed Martial Arts practice and that really relieved a lot of my stress. He also gave me advice whenever I had a problem. Until this day, I appreciate both the Peer Specialist and going to group with all the other teens. Since then I’ve stopped both drinking alcohol and using marijuana.

AFY Client

My name is Karen and I am now 20 years old. My mother called Probation and enrolled me into EAC Network’s AFY program because I needed help. I was doing drugs and running away; I was not going to school, and I was being disrespectful to my parents. I was depressed and felt alone and did not want to be in the AFY program. Then I met my Case Manager who started the difference in my life. She referred me for substance abuse and mental health counseling, she provided me with school assistance through LIAC, and led me to AFY’s H.E.R.S. girls support group which changed my life. I loved it so much. I met girls that were going through the same thing I was going through. I knew I was no longer alone and that I could accomplish the goals I wanted to achieve. Today I am drug free 2 years. I graduated school as a Medical Assistant and obtained my first full-time job in the field. Now I have goals to obtain my RN license, and I thank EAC Network for their continued support and the love they have for me.

AFY Client

My life changed the day I was introduced to AFY. Before AFY, I was all messed up. I would smoke, drink, skip class, and constantly fight. But thanks to AFY, I realized that I’m so much better than that and that I’ve got so much in store for me. I realized I can actually be something in my life if I just put my mind to it and work hard. During this program, I joined a group called H.E.R.S., which is a group for girls with all different problems, a group where nobody judges you, where you can just be yourself and connect with girls going through and struggling with similar issues. I learned that I’m not the only one trying to figure out life. We all have out moments of successes and failures. The leaders of this group helped me realize so much about myself that I didn’t even know about. I am at the part of the program where I’m assigned a Peer Specialist. This is when I started to love the program more because a Peer Speceialist is someone like a big sister/brother. you can go out and talk and connect. By luck, I got the best Peer Specialist ever. Her name is Jessica and she is my motivator. She has been through everything that I’m going through now. I know that I can rely on her for anything, and I trust her with my life. Since I met her, I learned how to make the right decisions, be a leader, and just be me! I am and I’m going to keep going down the right path so I can be successful. Thank you to everyone that believed in me. I couldn’t have made it without you guys.

AFY Client

I’d like to say that I’m not under the influence – but I am. I’m under the influence of Maudene and Angie from AFY. They influence me in a good way, unlike my friends (sometimes even my parents). I can call them whenever, especially when I need them. “Super Maudene” and “Captain Angie”…maybe that’s what I should call them – they’re true superheroes. I’ll admit it, I’m no angel. I tend to screw up…and once I perfected the “screw-up” into an art form, Angie and Maudene came into play. Two young, pretty girls wearing nice clothes and jewelry want to change my life? I wasn’t going to let them control my me! I was like, “LOL, no.” But of course, plot twist. They weren’t just pretty girls. Personally, I don’t care about myself too much. Angie and Maudene care about me more than I ever had. They taught me many things I should know, but didn’t. They taught me the dangers of my choices. They showed me the light. I’m not going to apologize for the cliché because it’s true. They truly made a difference. I’m sure I’m not the only girl they’ve rescued. I know they’ll rescue more. They’ve changed me for the better and I can’t thank them enough.

AFY Client

We were very happy with how quick AFY provided services. [Our Case Manager] Cassandra was the best; the quality of service she provided was excellent. Cassandra was very knowledgeable, professional, and well-spoken. If we were having a bad day, after Cassandra left everything was resolved. She was very caring and understanding. She met our needs head-on with solutions that benefited our child.

AFY Client

“I liked the fact that my son had someone whom he believed listened to him.  He responded to that.  I also liked that the interaction with him was direct.  Thank you.  I appreciate the fact this program was available to me and my son and it was the thing that assisted both of us in preventing him from going over the edge.”

AFY Client

“My son’s substance abuse issues have improved greatly.  He’s currently attending night school and on track to graduate.  He also joined boxing as a positive outlet for anger and enjoys it.”

AFY Client

“AFY and all of the wonderful counselors as well as the parent group and girls group were a huge help especially for me as a parent.  I did not even feel alone.  So I thank AFY from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful support.  We are finally on the right track as a family on how to deal with a defiant child, but very proud of the work our daughter is doing to move forward.”

AFY Client

“We found that the advice we got from AFY was very helpful.  My son has matured a lot since then and a had a big improvement in school since we changed schools.  He has a weekend job and seems pretty happy.  Thanks, AFY!”

AFY Client

Special Thanks