This is DeeDee Phillips, Chair of YAC. She moved to Valley County in March of 2015 to be the Juvenile Probation Officer. DeeDee started with YAC as a member soon after her arrival. DeeDee has been a Juvenile Probation Officer in Idaho for almost 23 years. Prior to being a Juvenile Probation Officer, she worked for the Boise School District at the 9th and 10th grade alternative high school as a Behavior Interventionist for 6 ½ years. DeeDee not only works with youth and families who struggle with behavior, mental health and addiction, but it is also part of her own personal story.

Being a teenager and growing into a young person, mentally and developmentally, is different than the generation before it. Due to technology the gaps between the generations are getting wider and deeper. The art of building relationships and communicating is evolving. Everyone struggles with how best to connect with the teen in their family, in their community. Substance use/abuse can be an easy fix for an awkward teen trying to fit in. There is no complicated reason for drug use. It is easy and it can alleviate the awkwardness. Some youths are able to get into a positive activity, hobby, program they are passionate about which eases the awkward, so they do not seek out drug use. Some youths have positive peer groups who do these activities with one another, so they do not feel alone.

Statistics around the nation show the highest risk for teen substance abuse/misuse is not being engaged in positive activities and peer groups. This is also connected to the time afterschool when many families are still working, and kids are unsupervised. YAC supports having a positive place for kids to go after school, even hosting their own after school program in New Meadows. They offer teen Table Talk support groups for kids to have a safe place to share and facilitate a peer-to-peer school based suicide prevention program known as HOPE Squad. Throughout the years YAC has hosted summer events and safe spaces throughout the year for youth to meet new people and become connected with healthy and supportive resources.

DeeDee believes in this community and is proud to Chair the Board of the Youth Advocacy Coalition. This coalition is building incredible WITH the youth in this region. Please, if you want to learn more, be engaged, sponsor programs, contact Patty Giardina at (208)-830-0702 or [email protected].