Individual time, love, and attention are fundamental for the healthy development of any child. It is even more crucial that children and teenagers who have experienced abuse, neglect, and other forms of suffering receive this attention and care so that they can overcome their pasts and break the cycle. We believe that one of the most effective solutions to meet this need within the current foster care system set up, is to provide each foster child and teenager a mentor who can serve as a positive influence and role model who will then become one of the most important and positive influences in their development. Through K1’s volunteer program, volunteers are recruited for this role, who are then trained by Family Guardianship and are matched with a child or teenager under protective custody.
Providing each child with a mentor (which is K1’s long-term goal) instills in them the fact that they are important and that they matter, especially in young children who cannot understand why they are not with their parents and that they are not at fault. Every child deserves to feel like they always will have a listening ear, and know that someone cares and wants to spend time with them, and cares about their specific challenges as well as their hopes and dreams. This all plays a key role in their development as human beings.
Some of the positive short-term effects that we have observed through this volunteer-based program are an improvement in self-esteem, academic performance, and their ability to resolve conflicts in a non-aggressive way. Even more so, children with mentors show improvement in social skills and are better equipped to cope with change because they feel safe and loved. At the end of the day, we are all looking for love and acceptance, and we try to provide this to foster children and teenagers by recruiting and training people within the community to become positive role models to these young people.