First Steps

First Steps for Foster Youth Mentors and CASAS:

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 child, and go over the resources our ministry offers our foster youth.

Mentors and CASAS both go through 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

Mentor Requirements:

  • Weekly visits for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours per week. Consistency is key!
  • One year commitment to Mentor
  • Commitment to pick up your child at their foster home or group home placement. Placements can change. Mentors agree to pick up their child wherever the child is placed in the City of San Diego.
  • A Car, valid CA drivers license, and proof of auto insurance.
  • At least 18 years of age
  • A One Day County Training

CASA Requirements:

  • 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 (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.
  • Write a simple, one page court report every month to keep up on how the child is doing and make any recommendations you think will benefit their welfare.
  • 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.

Common Questions:

  • 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 you 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.
  • Can my spouse and I mentor the same child? Yes, if you are mentoring. It is a great for our kids to be able to see a healthy couple relationship. CASAS however, have to have a one-on-one relationship with the child, they cannot have married couples doing CASA together. 
  • I'm in the military and will not be here for a year, are there mentoring opportunities that last less than a year?  No, We will need at least a year commitment to mentor and to be matched can sometimes take a couple of months.
  • What if I have something on my record? Talk to us about it.  Don't count yourself out.

What do I do as mentor and an advocate?

  • Show up on time, everytime.
  • Share life experiences, and interests with your youth.
  • Help them develop life skills, discover new things, develop strengths, and recognize their spiritual gifts.
  • Help them with their academics. Helping them with homework and encouraging them to take school seriously is a great way to help your mentee.
  • Listen. So few of our youth feel like they are heard or have someone to talk to.
  • Encourage them and help find ways to build their self-esteem.
  • Keep an eye out 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.

Many of these kids have been disappointed by previous adult relationships (mother, father, and other relatives). Be patient. It may take a while for your mentee to build up that 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 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

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