o meet the need for continuing support among youth, we have developed a mentorship program aimed at equipping transitional age teens with the resources needed to successfully live independently. This program has been certified as an affiliate of Kansas Mentors, and is accredited as an emerging Gold Star program. The transitional age period (approx. 17-18 yrs. old) is a very difficult time for youth. At-risk behaviors such as teen pregnancy, drug usage, and crime peak during this time of a youth’s life. According to US census information, teenagers who engage in marijuana use in Kansas triples in the year between ages 17 and 18. This transition is especially difficult for youth who have been in institutions or foster care for better parts of their development. When teenagers lack a solid support structure, they struggle with decision making and knowledge of community resources.
n order to help bridge the gap of this problem, our mentorship program will pair these teens with a volunteer community mentor and group of peers to oversee the problem solving process. As the number of youth entering foster care in Kansas each year does not seem to be declining, and many of the youth that we already serve are involved with the court system at an early age in their adolescence, there is a real need to continue after-care and prevention services. The mentor’s focus is educating the teens they are matched with on various skills that the teens might have missed, but will need in order to live healthy, productive lives. The mentors will regularly meet with teens in a small group in a supervised setting in order to promote a solid support system through the use of positive peer interactions and adult guidance. The mentors will educate the youth in their group on important life skills. An example the mentors might review with this population would be transportation. Many teens lack access to transportation and knowledge regarding the public transportation system and in turn are unable to get to higher education classes or their place of employment. The mentors will offer systematic education and break down, step by step, how to acquire transportation or how to navigate bus routes. The needs and skills each teen will need varies, and the mentors will cover a wide range of curriculum such as budgeting, financing, acquiring housing, grocery shopping and nutrition, laundry skills, social skills, and access to higher education.