Last night I met with Barry Chaffkin from Fostering Change for Children, which started the Adoptment program that runs at NAC. I mentioned to him how I found the mentors to be such an integral element to the success of my workshops, and he said that that should be something I seriously consider as I refine my programming ideas. Rachael Metz had already suggested that I could attract volunteers to work one-on-one with the youth, and I was thinking that I could talk to someone at NYCares about setting up a relationship. But Barry cautioned that I should be careful about volunteers who wouldn’t show up consistently, and that the program would be much more attractive if I could give the participants access to guidance from committed adults. I’ve tossed around the idea of teacher’s aides, but that would cost more money. Barry said that I could approach other mentoring programs. That way, I could take advantage of already-established relationships in the groups.
The other really great idea Barry gave me was to consider wrapping around a training component for foster parents. What’s the use of having kids work on goal-setting, he asked, if they then go home and receive little support from their foster families? That sort of training is his domain, so I look forward to sitting in on a couple of his training sessions to get a fuller picture of what it takes to help young people succeed within and beyond the system.