Support for Young People with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Youth Now Collaborative

Co-written: Maryann Roebuck, Melanie Bania, Beth O’Halloran, Benjamin Roebuck



Youth Now has practised the strength-based approach across their agency for the past decade. After reviewing existing evidence-based research, Youth Now shifted its approach with young people and its agency philosophy away from the traditional deficit/problem-based approach and realigned its policies and practices within a strength-based philosophy of care.

Initially based on existing strength-based programming and research, Youth Now ultimately developed its own unique strength-based philosophy of care:

Strengths are the filter through which we assess, observe, interact and plan for success. Resilience is born from enhancing strengths not by repairing weaknesses. We recognize that even our most troubled youth have strengths, resources and unique talents that can be incorporated into successful outcomes. We provide the environment whereby a youth can exercise personal control. The opposite is an environment with tools created for the purpose of the staff team controlling the youth. I.e. level systems, points, consequences. This type of environment creates power struggles with youth. Ultimately they want to be ‘the masters of their own destiny’. That is the goal (Roebuck, Roebuck, & Roebuck, 2011, p. 2).

In developing this report, the researchers conducted informal consultations with ten Youth Now staff (directors, program managers and frontline staff) around broader Youth Now issues. When asked, staff noted that every year they have clients either with diagnoses of FASD or who are suspected of having FASD. Knowing about a diagnosis or even a suspicion of FASD upon intake is useful to staff in order to provide suitable services for young people from the outset. At the same time, the general message from these staff was that they are equipped to support people with FASD through the use of the strength-based approach.


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