Building community on Vashon Island with VYFS

Vashon Youth Family Services (VYFS) has come a long way.

As a social service organization operating on Vashon Island for 47 years, Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) has come a long way from a group of activists meeting at the home of a community organizer to provide support for struggling youth — to today’s robust operation with four main programs at three locations, serving individuals, families, youth, and children.

All of this happened through collaboration and strong partnerships. VYFS is proud to be part of the island’s safety net, helping the community thrive. We don’t do it alone though. Almost everything we do involves some sort of collaboration.

Our flagship program, Behavioral Health, and Substance Use Treatment, is located at our main office on the Vashon High School (VHS) campus. This was not an accident; it came out of a long-standing partnership with the Vashon Island School District (VISD) to bring our two organizations together to support the youth and families in our community. VYFS Clinical Director, Michelle Krell, partners with VHS counselors to identify youth who may be at risk, and provide them with counseling support and outreach programs.

Over the last year, the demand for counseling services resulted in the need for five additional clinicians. This means increased counseling capacity and less wait time for new clients. In 2023, our counselors provided 6,360 therapy services to the community.

We are thrilled about our most recent partnership with The United Methodist Church. The church’s declining congregation drove their desire to serve the community in new and significant ways. With the Vashon-Maury Community Food Bank, (another partner of VYFS) making plans to move to the site, it made a lot of sense for the church to be a hub for the community to meet, learn, play, and find services. Church members were excited to bring children and families back into their space.

Now, the Sanctuary at The United Methodist Church is home to Family Place, a twenty-year-old VYFS program providing classes, playgroups, resources, and social connections for 115 Vashon families with over 287 young children. Programs continue to expand to meet emerging needs in the community.

Last year, we added English conversation classes and driver training assistance for non-English speakers. This year, we plan to add vocational and literacy resources to empower island families to enhance their circumstances.

Our Oasis Community Resource Navigators, who help connect islanders to critical services and support, have already been holding office hours at the church. Community Resource Navigators provided 2,208 sessions and requests for assistance in 2023, including ferry and medical vouchers – generously provided by support from Granny’s Attic, VIGA Bucks, assistance with insurance applications, and much more.

This year, we are thrilled to have a Spanish medical interpreter to help folks in need of translation services.

Vashon Kids child-care program, in its second decade, continues to thrive at Chautauqua Elementary, where staff members collaborate with school educators and work closely with parents to provide high-quality care for the whole family.

Generations of children have benefited from the social-emotional approach to teaching healthy behaviors, empathy, self-regulation, and problem-solving in an environment full of art, science, nature, and caring staff. Vashon Kids provides quality, dependable care for 58 children from 45 families. More than half of the children enrolled have complex needs.

Approximately 70% of families enrolled receive financial assistance, made possible through generous individual donations from our community, fundraising efforts, and government subsidies.

We want to express our sincere thanks to Vashon. It means a lot to us to support our fellow islanders, and we’re grateful for the generosity of donors who support our work. If you’re interested in learning more about VYFS or our programs, visit To contribute, visit To volunteer, email

Tiffany Schira is the Communications and Fundraising Manager for Vashon Youth & Family Services.