Youth First is a non-profit agency founded in 1998 by Dr. William Wooten. Youth First and the MSD of North Posey are working in collaboration to provide social workers at North Posey High School, North Elementary & South Terrace.  As students of all ages in our region wrestle with school behaviors and concerns, depression, anxiety, relational issues, and substance abuse, Youth First Social Workers have been just down the hallway ready to help.  The services are confidential and available at no cost to families.  Youth First provides 30 school social workers throughout Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, and Gibson counties.  Our mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.

Common reasons students may get referred to the social worker include: social skills, depression, anxiety, anger management, academic issues, divorce, family problems, and behavioral problems.  Youth First Social Workers provide service individually, as well as in small group settings.  Classroom presentations are also provided on topics including:  peer pressure, bullying, and friendship issues. Social workers also work closely with school administrators, teachers and counselors to help students make the most of school.

Meet your Youth First Social Workers

Elizabeth Christmas, LCSW

North Posey High School: (673-6612) Monday—Friday

Elizabeth attended the University of Southern Indiana and graduated with her Masters of Social Work.  She has been a Youth First Social Worker since 2003.  


Dena Embrey, LCSW

North Elementary: (874-8807) Monday/Tuesday/Friday (every other)

South Terrace: (985-3180) Wednesday/Thursday/Friday (every other) 

Dena is a North Posey graduate who went on to attend the University of Southern Indiana.  She graduated with her Masters of Social Work and has been a Youth First Social Worker since 2004.


Some of the programs being offered in the North Posey district include:

Strengthening Families 6-9 & 10-14 

Strengthening Families is a program designed for parents/caregivers and their children ages 6-9 or 10-14.  The program is appropriate for single-parent, blended, or traditional families.  Trained facilitators lead the program and are present to create a relaxed environment and guide conversations.  Each week the program begins with a family meal.  Afterwards there are separate parent and youth sessions.  We end the evening by coming back together for family time. The program also provides child care and/or homework help for children younger/older than the program’s age range. 

Next anticipated Strengthening Families Program will be Fall 2014.

Prevention Education 

Youth First Prevention Education is a program that provides educational lessons with freshman in select classrooms.  This program addresses the following goals; To decrease alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among students; To reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug related problems among students; and To improve school performance and attitudes toward school among program participants.


Why Try?

Why Try© is an evidence-based program with the primary goal to motivate students to do their very best and to make wise choices in various aspects of their lives.  The Why Try materials provide simple hands on tools for helping youth learn important life skills such as: Anger Management, Problem Solving, Dealing with Peer Pressure, Living Laws and Rules, Building a Support System. Why Try is taught to all 6th grade students at North Elementary and South Terrace. 


Reconnecting Youth 

Reconnecting Youth (RY) is a research-based prevention program for youth who are at high risk of dropping out of school.  The program goals are to decrease drug involvement, increase school performance, and decrease emotional distress. RY is offered as a daily, semester-long class designed to enhance self-esteem, decision-making, personal control, and interpersonal communication.  Credit is offered for the class.


Most of US 

The Youth First Most of Us campaign is a research-based strategy which recognizes that many young people want to conform to peer norms or feel the social pressure to do so. Students typically think that the norms for both frequency and the quantity of drinking among their peers are higher than they actually are.  The Social Norms approach works to correct negative misperceptions by collecting actual data that measures beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.  The data is then incorporated into a marketing campaign using media materials and messages to correct commonly-held beliefs like “everybody does it.” By continuing to market the true norms, the misperceptions are slowly altered.


For more information visit the Youth First website.