Today the state approved a grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Covenant House and Facing Foster Care in Alaska to implement a mentorship program to help foster youth build lasting support relationships with adults that will last beyond their time in foster care. The groups will launch the project this week.
Today 40 percent of foster youth coming out of care end up homeless at some point in their lives. To change this dynamic, and foster success, last year Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Amanda Metivier, founder of Facing Foster Care in Alaska, proposed that foster youth be assigned mentors so they have a responsible adult link after they leave foster care.
The Legislature unanimously added funding to the budget to start this effort last April, and today the state awarded the funds.
“I’m very excited that a pilot project to make life better for our foster youth is now a reality,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), who first pitched the idea to the Legislature last year and spearheaded a pilot project that is still ongoing.
“Most youth have a parent to call when they get in trouble, need food or rent money, or can’t make a tuition payment. Foster youth coming out of care often have no one to rely on. Mentorship has worked in other states, and is the decent thing to do for youth the state has legal custody over,” said Metivier, who worked with Gara on these efforts.
“This will make more youth more successful. All we need are the volunteer mentors, and we’ll be up and running,” says Trina Resari-Salao of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Mike Saville at Alaska Community Services has been running a successful pilot project since December to show that the project works. Saville’s organization will also stay involved.
“It’s exciting to see an idea finally become a reality,” said Gara.
For information on how to become a mentor, please contact Taber Rehbaum at Brothers/Big Sisters, 433-4622/452-8110. Amanda Metivier is available at (907) 230-8237. Deirdre Cronin or Lauren Rice at Covenant House are available at (907) 272-1255.