Our Story

In 2015 the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Get IN Chicago and a community advisory committee, held a citywide call to action to address youth violence and improve educational outcomes. The goal was to solicit, fund, and carefully measure the impact of the most promising approaches to violence reduction. In response to this call, two local nonprofits came together to create an innovative program for adolescents that aimed to reduce violence and justice system involvement while also increasing school engagement. Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. and Children’s Home & Aid were interested in pairing the individualized wraparound services of YAP with the trauma-informed behavioral health work of Children’s Home & Aid. The result was  Choose to Change (C2C): Your Mind, Your Game.  

From more than 200 applicants to this citywide call, a selection committee comprised of representatives from the civic, philanthropic and research communities in Chicago selected C2C as the Design Competition winner, believing it to be the most promising program to help young people avoid justice system involvement and thrive in their communities.

About Children’s Home & Aid

Children’s Home & Aid is a leading child and family service agency in Illinois, serving nearly 30,000 children and families each year in over 60 counties. We partner with children, youth and families whose potential is at risk to create hope, opportunity, and bright futures. Since 1883, Children’s Home & Aid has been a leader in responding to the changing needs of children and families in Illinois. We have paved the way by establishing best practices, developing innovative program approaches and shaping public policies in child welfare, early childhood and youth services. Children’s Home & Aid is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and was a winner of the 2017 Mutual of American Community Partnership Awards for the Power of Fathers program. Learn more about Children’s Home & Aid at www.childrenshomeandaid.org.

About Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.

Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. is a nationally recognized, community-based non-profit agency committed to providing alternatives to institutionalization through direct service, advocacy, and policy change. Since 1975, YAP has been a national leader in de-institutionalization.  By 2020, YAP was serving more than 20,000 families annually in 150 programs across 29 states in rural and urban areas including 40 major metro areas. One hundred percent of YAP’s programming takes place in the home communities of the individuals the organization serves. YAP is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and has received awards from Annie E. Casey Foundation, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and is included in the Federal inventory of evidence-based models at gov.org. Learn more at www.YAPInc.org.

Meet our team

David Williams

David R. Williams is the Vice President Midwest Region at Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Kentucky. David has been with YAP for 14 years, and he was the first advocate in the Chicago area.

Chris Sutton

Christopher Sutton is the Director of the Choose to Change program. He was born and raised in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood where he attended John F. Kennedy High School. He then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Grambling State University. He is committed to serving the community by making a difference in the lives of over 2,500 youth annually.

Amanda Whitlock

Amanda Whitlock, LCSW, is the Senior Vice President of Child Welfare & Behavioral Health Services for Children’s Home & Aid. She oversees Intact, Extended Family, and Foster Care Contracts statewide. She also oversees the clinical service delivery of counseling to youth and families in foster care, youth and families utilizing office-based and school-based behavioral health counseling, and a therapeutic residential program for youth ages 6 to 12 in Evanston.

Julie Noobler

Julia Noobler, LCSW, is the Director of Behavioral Health Services in the Metropolitan region for Children’s Home & Aid. She oversees the clinical service delivery of counseling to youth and families in foster care as well as youth and families utilizing office-based and school-based behavioral health counseling in Chicago and Chicago Suburbs.

Diana Buitron

Diana Buitron is the School Program Manager for C2C and the Chicago Student Success Initiative and has worked with Children’s Home & Aid for three years. She works with various service providers in the community to provide Children’s Home & Aid with the ability to build trust and relationships, which has resulted in CH&A providing a safe space to address chronic stress.

About Us

Choose to Change is an innovative partnership to help youth thrive and succeed.

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