On May 3, 2017, United Way of Greenville County awarded a three year grant to Fostering Great Ideas (FGI) to support FGI’s Life Support mentor program for youth in foster care. The support is financial and technical, with assistance on measurement analysis and partner development.
Life Support began in 2012 with an inaugural 22 youth in foster care introduced to the program. Volunteer mentors, willing to help and guide youth through the difficulties of life in foster care, commit to engage with their youth at least twice a month for as long as their “mentee” remains in foster care. The volunteers go through background checks and extensive training on understanding the pain and emotions these children have experienced. Currently 75 relationships for youth living in foster care exist, plus an additional 35 mentors continue monthly engagements, even though many of their youth are now young adults and no longer living in foster care.
What begins as a formal relationship often ends up being meaningful and caring for both the youth and the mentor. “She is the best mentor because she cares about me and has stuck with me through the years. I love her and she means a lot to me,” said one youth of her mentor. Often, the mentor becomes a parental figure of support. And in some cases the bond is so compelling that they do end up as family: five mentors have traveled the path from mentoring to adopting their mentee.
All FGI initiatives are innovative in nature and look at foster care through the eyes of the child. How can we all improve the sobering statistics, so children who experienced significant neglect do not have to live under this cloud? How can these children find their intrinsic value and thrive in foster care and beyond? These are the questions begging for solutions. To learn more about Fostering Great Ideas, visit fgi4kids.org.
United Way of Greenville County is engaged at many levels of change, having a particular focus on School Readiness, High School Graduation, and Financial Stability. To learn more about United Way, visit unitedwaygc.org.