Friends of the Children: Empowering Youth in High Poverty Schools and the Foster Care System

We believe that every child deserves the chance to reach their full potential. For youth in care, that’s very difficult. We have a solution.

The Problem

Generation after generation, through no fault of their own, children are born into cycles of poverty and disadvantage. For children at risk of or experiencing foster care, the path to success and empowerment is even harder. These youth must often navigate a complex, uncoordinated web of short-term solutions and well-meaning agencies.

The majority of youth exiting the foster care system face continued challenges:

  • 45% of foster youth do not graduate,
  • 37% enter the justice system, and
  • 14% become teen parents.
  • This is particularly concerning when you consider the disproportionate number of youth of color in the foster care system.

    However, with the right resources, opportunities, and supports, those numbers become inspiring stories of empowerment and community leadership.

The Solution

Friends of the Children works with schools, foster care systems, and partners to identify 4-6 year old children. We invite the youth and their families to join us, immediately pairing each child with a “Friend” – a salaried, full-time, professional mentor who provides them with a caring, intentional relationship for 12 ½ years. We develop and stay with each child from kindergarten through graduation, no matter what.

We believe that for each youth to reach their full potential, they should be empowered to: graduate from high school, avoid the juvenile justice system, and avoid early parenting. Third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children shows that:

  • 83% of program graduates earn a high school diploma or GED
  • 93% of program youth avoid the juvenile justice system;
  • 98% avoid early parenting.

Now, we are launching an innovative foster care initiative in two parts. First, we are working directly with foster care systems to mitigate trauma and empower youth. Second, we have a two-generation pilot, where we support children and their parents - who themselves are either currently in foster care or have recently aged out - to participate in our program. We provide the parents with social support and connection to community resources they might not otherwise be able to find or access.

Friends of the Children is leading a movement. We are listening to youth, families, and communities, and walking alongside them to change the trajectories of future generations. The time is now, and we are ready. Will you join us?!

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Friends of the Children

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