The First Step in the process is to attend a Mentor and Advocate Orientation. This two hour orientation will give you an overview of both programs, give you some tips on how to set up a firm foundation for a relationship with your youth/young adult, and go over the resources our ministry offers our foster youth.
All volunteers require a background check, finger printing and medical exam. That is paid for by the organization, not the applicant.
For information on our next Orientations email us at [email protected] or visit us at Facebook.com/StepUpMentors
Our current Mentor and Advocate partnerships are with Just in Time and the CASA program.
Just in Time:
Just in time helps young adults age 18-26, that are transitioning out of the foster care system.Through their community based approach and services that address the needs of youth wherever they are, Just in Time looks at the whole person and provides resources to help them navigate accordingly. Some of the services provided are for emergency needs, housing, transportation, education, career guidance, money management, and healh/wellness. Here at Step Up Foster Youth Mentors, we partner with them to provide mentors/coaches to young adults, scholarship funds, home goods and furniture for foster youth moving into their first place, and welcome baskets for their move ins.
We want to acknowledge that during Covid, Just in Time was one of the few foster youth service organizations that did not close or minimize services, which means that they were greatly impacted absorbing the over flow of other organizations that did not do the same. This made us even more intent on finding ways to help them meet the needs of these young adults. We are honored to partner with them and we are ecstatic to be apart of the Just in Time extended community.
- Car, CA driver's license and valid car insurance required
- At least 21 years of age
CASA's, known as "Voices for Children" really have a special role in the life of a foster youth. CASA's advocate for a child's personal, academic and personal needs. Children can range from 6-18 and some youth are in extended foster care, typically ages 18-21. Children that are assigned CASA's are usually in the greatest need. CASA's have the unique role of making reccomendations to the court on the child's behalf. CASA's meet with their child at least once a month to spend time or to go to court with them on the months when they have a court date pending. When spending time with their child they can do things like go for an ice cream, on a hike, play at a park, watch a movie, grab a bite to eat or other fun things. We partner with the CASA's by providing volunteers that would like to advocate as a CASA for a child in need.
- Meet with your child a minimum of once a month, of course more often would be great! You will go out and do fun things in the city or accompany them to court on the months they have that scheduled (court is usually every six months or so)
- 18 month commitment. This follows the average life of a court case which is 18 to 24 months.
- At least 21 years of age
- A 35 hour training. Some is online and some is in person. There is a "Fast Track" where you can go through the training quickly with one evening class and three Saturday classes. Morning, evening, and Saturday classes are available to complete the training.
- What is the age group of the kids in the Mentor and CASA programs? The average age is 6-18 years old, although there are some 18-21 year olds in extended foster care. Please don't think that the older ones need you any less. They are transitioning into adulthood, making major life decisions, and deciding the path they will take to prepare for their future!
- What is the greatest need? Boys, 12 and over have the greatest need. That is always the longest waiting list. That being said, MALE mentors and advocates are our greatest need for those boys. Another need is for Spanish speaking mentors and advocates.
- I am a single parent, can I still be a mentor or advocate? Yes, but as a CASA must meet with your child one-on-one. Often times foster youth are in foster homes and group homes with multiple children. They need that time with you, not having to worry about competing for attention from another child. As a Just in Time Mentor, there are different programs to choose from, some of the time you will meet with young adults in a group environment and sometimes one-on-one. However, we ask that initially you go on your own. In the future, once your relationship is established with your mentee, then you can introduce your child to your mentee
- Can my spouse and I mentor or advocate for the same child? CASAS and Just in Time will have each person fill out their own application and be assigned their own child or young adult to mentor or advocate for.
- I'm in the military and will not be here for a year, are there mentoring opportunities that last less than a year? We will need at least a year commitment for Just in Time and at least 18 months for the CASA program.
- What if I have something on my record? Talk to us about it. Don't count yourself out.
Ways I can help my foster youth:
- Show up on time, everytime.
- Share life experiences, and interests with your youth. Share how you have overcome challenges.
- Help them develop life skills, discover new things, develop strengths, and recognize their spiritual gifts.
- Help them with their academics. Help them with homework and encourage them to take school seriously. Make it apart of your time with them.
- Listen. So few of our youth feel like people listen or hear them.
- Encourage them and find ways to build their self-esteem.
- Look for teachable moments you can have with your child.
- Support them in their endeavors and reward them when they try new things.
- Go out and do fun things with them. One of the fastest ways to get your mentee talking, is to get them walking. Hiking trails, beach board walks, lakes, parks, street fairs, and farmers markets are an easy way to get them to open up. They are not face to face with an adult authority figure, so it puts them more at ease to talk.
Most of these kids have been disappointed by important relationships (mother, father, and other relatives). Be patient. It may take awhile for your mentee to build trust with you. However, every child is different and the way that they deal with trauma is to. Sometimes, the relationship can build quickly. The most important thing to do is to meet your child exactly where they are, show up, and be consistent. The rest will come!
"Train up a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6