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Latin American Youth Center


Latin American Youth CenterThe Basics

A group of volunteers opened the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) in 1974 with the aim of supporting vulnerable members of the Washington, DC Latino community. LAYC offers a variety of programs for low-income youths and their families who are affected by mental health, criminal and domestic violence, homelessness and substance abuse. The substance abuse program has been in place for over 20 years, guiding young addicts and their families through early recovery in an outpatient setting.

While LAYC initially worked with Latino youth of diverse backgrounds, it now serves youth from all ethnic backgrounds at locations in the District of Columbia and Maryland’s Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

Treatment and Staff

A client of LAYC’s substance abuse program must be between 12 and 21 years of age and have Medicaid. Once admitted, eligible clients attend group therapy once a week for 14 weeks.

LAYC does not use the 12-step methodology. Its curriculum, the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA), focuses on the behavioral aspect of substance abuse. A-CRA is a modification of the adult CRA model and was specifically adapted for adolescents. A-CRA clients have three types of sessions: adolescent individual, parent/caregiver individual and adolescent with parent/caregiver.

During these sessions, a licensed therapist helps the client to identify triggers, recognize negative long-term outcomes of substance abuse and use problem-solving and communication skills. The goal is to give the client healthy coping mechanisms to achieve long-lasting behavioral change. Like the 12 steps, this methodology encourages total abstinence from drugs and alcohol so LAYC administers drug tests once per month. The facility refers graduates of the program requiring additional help to outside services.


LAYC offers bilingual counseling services to youth abusing drugs or alcohol, youth engaging in high-risk behavior and youth with a parent or caregiver abusing drugs or alcohol. Clients are provided with referrals to outside programs as needed.

In Summary

The LAYC substance abuse program focuses on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of Washington, DC-area adolescents and their families. With the use of A-CRA, it is able to tailor treatment specifically to adolescents and to treat them in the most effective way possible. By integrating the family into treatment, LAYC bridges gaps and creates stronger communities, even within family households.

Latin American Youth Center
1419 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009

Latin American Youth Center Cost: Free (with Medicaid). Reach Latin American Youth Center by phone at (202) 319-2229. Find Latin American Youth Center on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram

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