United Neighbors Announces New Foster Care Connections Mentoring Program

The United Neighbors of Fall River Foster Care Support Task Force in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families have just announced the creation of the Foster Care Connections (FCC) Mentoring Program funded by Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts –Community Foundation Discretionary Fund. The funds will be distributed through the fiscal agent, the May Institute, Inc. who is partnering for this crucial program. The new program will identify and train former foster youth to become mentors to youth currently in out of home placements. “Former foster youth make wonderful mentors because they have insight into the unique needs and situations that the youth experience and can better relate to their needs.” Comments Jenny DiBlasi, Executive Director. “We have already started receiving calls from prospective mentors!” Through the program, mentors will receive paid training and a monthly stipend for the reimbursement of expenses. Youth between the ages of 16-20 will be paired with a mentor that will spend a minimum of 3 hours a month with them. Judith Rocha, Supervisor for the Department of Children and Families comments, “DCF has a number of youth in out of home care who lack a meaningful connection to a positive role model. Many of our youth have no where to turn when they wish to share good news or bad news. They are in need of help completing college applications or simply somewhere to go to share a holiday.” The goal of the FCC Mentoring Program is to provide youth in out of home placement with a support system that will enable them to have improved outcomes upon leaving the foster care system. A recent study showed that youth in foster care who had a mentor during adolescence demonstrated significantly improved outcomes compared with non-mentored youth. “While this is a pilot program, the hope is that it will expand in the future to help even more youth.” Stated Ms. DiBlasi. Currently the program is recruiting for mentors who have previous, personal experience in the foster care system. Those interested in making a difference in the life of a youth in out of home placement can call Jenny DiBlasi at 508-324-7933 to find out more or fill out the attached application and fax to 508-324-7925.