Youth Services has been serving youth in Kittitas County for over 50 years.
The need for a youth-oriented program became apparent to a group of concerned Ellensburg citizens in l969. Their aim was to formulate a plan which would provide a facility and proper environment for youth. Drawing on models from cities throughout the Northwest, this group created a drop-in center called Open House. The House opened on July 1, 1970 and operated on donations from the community. In September of 1971 the acting director was transferred, and the House was forced to close. Immediately the Board of Open House and the Mental Health and Retardation Board applied for state drug funds and a total of $4143 was awarded. A new director was selected and a new approach was developed. The Open House concept was kept and reopened, aiding youth in whatever way possible. The major aspect of Open House was to provide a clearing house for information to those in need. Open House provided temporary housing, medical treatment, drug and alcohol intervention counseling, craft programs and camping experiences.
Due to the lack of sufficient funding and a need to reevaluate the program the decision was made to close the House. The Board of Directors felt that Ellensburg needed a youth advocate and kept the corporation alive. The Board met during the winter and spring of 1976 trying to ascertain what approach should be taken to secure adequate funding. Due to the efforts of the Open House Board and the Community Services Administration Board, Open House qualified for state funding. The decision was made to reopen. The Board worked on the development of a job description and began the process of looking for a director. The Board organized and developed new goals and objectives within the interests of the office of Drug Abuse Prevention. The name was changed in July of 1977 to Youth Services of Kittitas County. Since 1977 Youth Services has maintained a drop-in center and specialized in drug education, prevention and alternatives.
Youth Services outreach efforts have reached into every corner of Kittitas County. In 2013, a formal evidence-based mentor program was created and since then Youth Services has managed to create a good working relationship with all other social service agencies and continues to be the only youth advocacy agency in Kittitas County with a successful mentor program.