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Family Mentors help parents create stable homes for children

25 new volunteers needed this year
By: Staff report
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Family Mentor program

What: Orientation meetings

When: 6 p.m. Jan. 3 and Jan. 7

Where: 11641 Blocker Drive in Auburn

Info: (530) 887-1006 or www.casaplacer.org

Being a parent is not always easy, especially if good parental role models were absent from one’s life and basic parenting skills were not demonstrated. But thanks to a recent grant, a local program to mentor families is being expanded, and volunteers are needed to help its mission.

Over time, Child Advocates of Placer County (CAPC) staff and volunteers began to see a pattern with some of the cases they managed through the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program: a child is removed from a home because of abuse or neglect, the parent (usually single and young) seeks help and/or treatment, the child is reunified with family, stress rebuilds on the parent, the child is mistreated and again removed from the home, and the cycle repeats. The root of the problem often seems to be a lack of basic life skills, which leads to stress and the behaviors that cause children to be removed from the home.

CAPC took action and launched the Family Mentor program in January 2011 with help from First 5 Placer. The program trains community volunteers to be mentors who meet with parents once a week to help them with basic life skills, such as how to run a household, how to prepare wholesome meals, how to open a bank account and create a budget and how to further their education or apply for a job.

“Our goal is to help parents achieve independence and get to a point where they no longer need public assistance” said Laurie Tyrrell, who oversees the Family Mentor program. “Ultimately, we just want to prevent children from re-entering the foster care system.”  

The Family Mentor program has helped 35 families succeed.

 “As a social worker, I appreciate the program, as it not only teaches our families new domestic skills, but also guides them in developing healthy social relationships that will influence their choices in the future,” said Christy Simpson, Placer County Child Welfare social worker. “Because of this program, these families have successfully reunified, exited the system, and gone on to live healthy and productive lives.”  

Because of the program’s success, First 5 Placer recently awarded CAPC a three-year grant to expand the program.

“We are very grateful to have the support of First 5 Placer,” said Don Kleinfelder, executive director at CAPC. “Our goal is to recruit and train 25 new Family Mentor volunteers in 2013. I encourage everyone to attend one of our orientations, where you’ll learn that you don’t have to be perfect to be a Family Mentor –you just need a desire to help. We provide you with all the tools and support you’ll need to make a huge difference in the lives of these families. And ultimately, it will change your life as well.”

Attend an upcoming orientation meeting to learn more about becoming a Family Mentor. Legal or social work experience is not required.