Meaningful Mentoring – Big Brothers Big Sisters program helps local teens

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada, or BBBS, has embarked on a new adventure called the DREAMR project seeking to reduce pregnancy among youth in foster care and improve the relationship and parenting skills for those youth already pregnant or parenting.

Partnering with the Children’s Bureau, Clark County Department of Family Services, Southern Nevada Health District, UNLV’s Lincy Institute, the Turning Point Experience, Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth and Olive Crest, the DREAMR project aims to provide mentoring for 12- to 21-year-olds by individuals and couples in the Clark County community.

BBBS program manager Bryan Guiot said the mentoring piece of this program is special because the organization is providing mentors to be adult friends to teenagers who aren’t a paid part of their caregiver circle.

“The goal is to provide a nonpaid adult that can offer a friendship and positive influence in each child’s life,” he said. “We want our kids to benefit from the impact of mentoring.”

BBBS CEO Molly Latham added, “Most children have consistent caring adults when they’re raised within their own families, but children in foster care don’t have that … many of the adults are paid to be there for them. In contrast, these volunteers are friends who want to be there for them.”

The DREAMR project aims to serve 200 youth over the next four years. Each volunteer mentor will provide at least an 18-month commitment to their teenager or “little.” Interested volunteers are required to go through a basic application process, in-person interview, background check and special training on the front end as well as biweekly coaching.

“It’s important that when you go into a child’s life that you stick for awhile,” Latham said. “They have enough of a revolving door in their lives with adults going in and out, and this commitment can make a positive impact on them.”

Latham added that providing positive influences for the kids in foster care benefits the community as a whole.

“If we can keep these kids in school and not change placement in their foster homes so often then that’s a huge return on the investment from the community,” she said. “Besides the great things it does for the kids, it has the ability to do great things for the community including lowering the rate of teen pregnancy and increasing the high school graduation rate.”

Interested volunteers can email dreamr@bbbsn.org or call 702-731-2227 and ask to speak about the DREAMR project. The majority of children in the program are male and volunteers tend to be female, and BBBS would like to see an increase in male and couple volunteers for the DREAMR project.

Contact researcher Beth Karuschak at ekaruschak@lvbusinesspress.comor 702-383-0456.

Article from: http://www.lvbusinesspress.com/articles/2012/09/24/news/iq_56648126.txt