What is A Circle of Friends?
Circle of Friends is a revolutionary mentoring program that connects our community’s most vulnerable children with trained mentors, called Friends. We stay with our children from kindergarten through their high school graduation date to provide the consistent, caring support they so clearly need. We help our children develop the relationships, goals and skills necessary to break the cycles of poverty, abuse, and violence in order to become contributing members of our society and their community.
Who are Friends?
Our mentors are trained individuals and families that are provided with training, support, and resources. Friends receive training, supervision and ongoing support from our staff. Friends bring an exceptional level of diversity, expertise and passion to their work with our children, creating a unique and successful Friend-child relationship that is the cornerstone of our program.
Who are the Children?
We select our children based on risk factors identified by research to be most predictive of serious long-term negative outcomes. Each child is identified based on his or her degree of vulnerability to school failure, potential for gang and drug involvement and possible criminal behavior. Many of our children face poverty, homelessness, substitute care, abuse and neglect, parental drug and alcohol abuse, parental incarceration and domestic violence. As a result of these challenges, many of our children move and change schools often. Given their high levels of mobility, our children often fall through the cracks of school or community-based mentoring programs. Because Circle of Friends intervenes early and stays with them for the long-term, we are able to address the specific and diverse needs of children whose instability renders them outside the bounds of other mentoring programs.
How are children selected?
We collaborate closely with the local elementary school to assure we are identifying children with the highest need. Our research-based and detailed selection process includes an observation period in which our experienced staff observes children at school and select those with the need for intervention and a long-term mentor.
How does it all work?
Each child is paired with a Friend with whom they spend a minimum of three to four hours each week. Friends are involved in all areas of our children’s lives: supporting them at school, hanging out at Circle of Friends space, collaborating with their families and accompanying them in their communities. This model enables a child to form a trusting, caring, and sustained relationship with an adult that can truly change his or her life for the better.
What do we do together?
The activities that Friends and children do together are unique to the child’s individual needs, abilities, interests and talents. Friends engage in activities with our children that foster social and emotional development, making positive choices and school success, as well as nurture each child’s passions and talents. These activities take place in the Circle of Friend space, child’s school and community, and may include working on homework, cooking healthy foods, practicing an instrument, playing sports, performing community service, visiting the library, museum, or attending a concert. We introduce our children to positive options for their life and extend their community of support.
What’s prevention & early intervention?
By intervening early and preventing negative outcomes before they occur, Circle of Friends is able to effectively address the specific needs of our nation’s highest-risk children. Friends enter children lives at an early age, when their hearts and minds are open, and before negative behaviors have been established. The relationships that children form with their mentors help them to navigate the challenges and obstacles they will face throughout childhood and adolescence, and helps them build confidence, interests, and skills in order to do so.
I’m ready for mentoring – What now?
Are you ready to change the life of a child? Become a Mentor! Simply contact us and we’ll take care of all the rest!