Children need constant and consistent role models. They are products of their environments regardless of what that environment is. This is why a child who may not have many positive or stable influences in their life benefits from one-on-one mentoring. EAC Network’s Chance to Advance service looks to bring meaningful change to the lives of at-risk children and those in foster care.
Children and young adults need to be heard and inspired. With our committed one-on-one volunteer mentors and services, we aim for that and more.
The Impact of One-On-One Mentoring
The role of a mentor is not only to teach simple life lessons through conversations but also to be there when the hard ones are learned instead. The “being there” part is the most important. Most kids from foster care environments lack consistency in their lives and desperately need it. Everyone, especially our youth, needs someone they trust for guidance, advice, and support. From that feeling, all things are possible.
The Risk of Not Getting Involved
Often, those in foster care, or that age out of it become associated with unwanted statistics. They face many life-altering obstacles, from poor graduation rates to substance abuse and high incarceration rates. When we don’t have anyone to turn to, everything becomes overwhelming, and we tend to give up, and that’s not something we can allow these kids to do.
Key Elements to be an Effective Mentor
- Listening – Take in whatever they say and try not to interrupt. Sometimes they need to vent; other times, it could be about a complex subject. So, be sure not to seem like you are judging them, or they could pull away from sharing more. Instead, ask engaging questions that give more detailed answers than yes or no.
- Problem Solving – Remember that as much as we want to help them, they must learn that they can do things independently. Be in the moment so that you see if they can do it on their own when situations arrive that require a decision or problem If they need you to help at any point, be encouraging, and point out what they did right more than what mistakes they made.
- No Judgement – Building trust is essential in your role as a mentor. The children need to feel like they can be themselves in front of you without judgment. Opening up to them as well will show them that you trust them. Take in whatever they share with you to heart. They may not have felt comfortable sharing with many people in the past, which can be a delicate and new experience for them.
- Commitment and Consistency – These kids and young adults have suffered different degrees of disappointment and abandonment in their lives. You need to be immensely aware of this before and during any involvement or one-on-one mentoring that you engage in. These kids need to feel comfortable enough to trust you, open up and benefit from the time you spend together. That only comes from knowing they can count on you to be there for them.
Where one-to-one mentoring is invaluable, having programs geared toward positive development are just as important. These services provide much-needed support and engagement, from preparing them for college or a career to recreational programs.
One additional way that EAC Network helps is with its Chance to Advance Summer Program. It is N.Y. S. licensed and offers attendees ways to develop socialization, and life skills, be around positive people with their best interests in mind, and just have some fun.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or donating to support the Chance TO Advance program, please contact us today!