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To provide our most vulnerable children a nurturing and sustained relationship with a professional mentor who teaches positive values and has attainable expectations for each child to become healthy, productive members of the community.
The program model is based upon research on the risk and resilience factors for children. The research identifies risk factors (those environmental characteristics that place children in danger for teen pregnancy, school dropout, crime, drug abuse) and protective factors (positive environmental factors and/or personal characteristics that enable children to overcome adverse conditions and function with resilience). The research shows that the strongest single protective factor that a child can have is a close relationship with a caring adult who serves as a mentor and a role model- the most important tool for resiliency is a Friend. Friends of the Children is distinct in three principal ways. First, it employs carefully screened, full-time mentors who receive ongoing support and training from the program. Unlike many programs that rely on volunteer mentors, Friends of the Children has maintained high retention rates among both its staff and children. Second, the program selects children based upon a highly targeted assessment process that includes six weeks of classroom observation and input from school staff, ensuring that those children who could most benefit from having a Friend are invited to participate. Third, Friends of the Children intervenes early, at age 6-7, when children are most receptive to change and makes a long-term (12.5 year) commitment to each child. While the focus of the program is on the children, Friends obtain parental consent and work in close coordination with families, schools and other service agencies to ensure the holistic well being of each child.