Across the United States, 1 in 3 youth will reach adulthood and ‘age out’ of the foster care system without the help of a stable family or mentor. Applying this to the U.S. Census demographics for 8-18 year olds, it projects that 16 million young people, including 9 million at-risk young people, will reach adulthood without connecting with a mentor of any kind.
I signed up to become a mentor because I love learning from children and teens. Children are extremely smart and sensitive. They are full of wisdom.AzCA mentor
At Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA), we believe in the importance of having support and connections with a mentor. Our support services and mentor program is designed to aid foster care youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who have or will be transitioning out of Arizona State or Tribal Foster Care. We provide skills and support to more than 1,000 youth and young adults in their transition into independence each year by assisting them in gaining skills for self-sufficiency.
Why are mentors important?
A mentor can be an impactful relationship that helps guide a young adult’s future as they ‘age out’ of the foster care system. Here are some statistics that explain why.
- Benefits for youth:
- Increased high school graduation rates
- Lower high school dropout rates
- Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
- Better attitude about school
- Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations
- Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improved behavior, both at home and at school
- Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
- Improved interpersonal skills
- Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use
Not only that, but having an effective, high-quality and enduring mentor is associated with the capacity for youth to engage in high-quality social relationships, to have greater academic achievement, school engagement, school adjustment, and to view their futures more positively.
My experience as a mentor can be described as healing, natural, caring and courageous. We’ve become family. It happened naturally. We enjoy each other’s presence and have compassion towards each other.AzCA mentor
How to help:
Every January National Mentoring Month is celebrated; join us in celebration by sharing with your friends and family the importance of mentors. If you would like to help more hands on, learn more about the AzCA Mentor Program and sign up to become a mentor today!
Go for it! There is nothing to be afraid of. I understand that it can be scary to not know what will happen but life is unpredictable itself. If you go with an open heart, nothing can go wrong. You will be able to overcome any challenge. When you give without expecting anything in return, it is an awesome feeling. What you learn from a child has genuine meaning. Whenever you don’t know what to do, there will always be your mentor specialist to help you out.AzCA mentor