Mentoring youth in foster care

The 2011 Northeast Regional Mentoring Conference, Oct. 13-14 in Framingham, MA, will bring together more than 250 practitioners, researchers and other stakeholders in the mentoring field. The conference’s numerous workshops, covering various themes, will ultimately connect the outcomes and power of mentoring.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting the conference with previews to some of the workshops. This post is courtesy of Adoption and Foster Care (AFC) Mentoring's Executive Director Colby Berger and Program Director Melissa Chu, conference presenters.

At first glance, youth in foster care represent a population that arguably most needs and could most benefit from mentoring. Frequent transitions in living situation force youth in care to continually sever important connections and relationships.

Adoption and Foster Care (AFC) Mentoring believes that providing a consistent, caring adult mentor can positively impact the world of a youth in foster care.

While more mentoring programs are now serving youth in care, offering population-specific programs remains a challenge. Too many well-intentioned mentoring programs fail to recognize that young people in foster care have different needs than their peers, and unknowingly use a one-size-fits-all mentoring model which has the potential to do more harm than good for foster youth.

[caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Melissa Chu and Colby Berger, AFC Mentoring"][/caption]This workshop will focus on the unique strengths and challenges faced by young people in foster care and work with participants to identify and enact the types of mentoring practices that can help foster youth to flourish.

Participants in this workshop, whether or not they are directly serving foster youth, can benefit by gaining insight and understanding to the needs of special populations. The workshop will use interactive methods to teach the risks that “best practices” can sometimes add to mentoring with targeted populations, and specifically to youth in care.

Applying best practices correctly could be the difference between creating a positive impact and adding unnecessary harm in the life of a foster youth. Discussion, activities, and video will allow participants to actively engage in assessing their organization’s ability to serve this population or refer youth to programs more specifically addressing their needs.

Foster and adopted youth are in special need of mentors; a committed adult can provide the support and stabilization so needed in a life of transition.

However, the benefit of such a program lies in tailoring training and practice to the needs of these youth. This session will utilize lessons from the field to offer insight to mentoring programs of all kinds. Through this inviting and engaging workshop, we hope to provide the tools which will allow organizations to provide careful and intentional mentoring to foster youth.

Join us at the Northeast Regional Mentoring Conference; let’s team up to better serve youth in care!