Boynton Beach - The Mentor Center has made huge strides in matching youth with mentors during the past five years – a period in which Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County has nearly doubled its funding to $1.34 million, while the number of youth served has grown exponentially from 240 to almost 4,500.
Of those youth currently matched, nearly 770 are connected with 15 mentor programs directly funded by the Council, staff told the Council’s board at its monthly meeting Thursday. Another 1,420 remain on the waitlist for a mentor.
In support, the board proclaimed January 2018 as Mentoring Awareness Month.
“We are thrilled with The Mentor Center’s growth and reach of programs, mentors and mentees,” says Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of Children’s Services Council. “Because of this valuable work, more Palm Beach County children have someone to lean on – someone with whom to share their worries and celebrate their successes.”
National studies have shown that youth who are actively engaged in mentoring are 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school and 55 percent more likely to enroll in college. They also are 46 percent less likely to start using drugs, as compared to their peers, and 27 percent less likely to start drinking.
In 2012, the Council transitioned oversight of The Mentor Center to United Way of Palm Beach County to elevate mentoring across the county. Today the Center, the only Florida affiliate of the National Mentoring Partnership, offers guidance and support to programs in its network, including:
- Mentor and mentee recruitment
- Program training opportunities
- Mentor training opportunities
- Mentoring mini grants (of up to $7,500)
- Technical assistance
The Mentor Center also reaches out to other organizations in the community that emphasize the benefits of a mentor-mentee relationship, such as My Brother’s Keeper, a program of Palm Beach County’s Youth Services Department.
Rather than rest on its laurels, staff told the Council’s board, The Mentor Center has plans for a pre-K mentoring project, as well as using Elements of Effective Practice to continue to raise the level of quality among local mentor programs.
In other business
Early Intervention Assessment Team: The Council approved a contract with Easter Seals Florida, Inc., to establish the Early Intervention Assessment Team. The program will add two interdisciplinary teams to evaluate and make eligibility determinations for children referred to Easter Seals because of developmental concerns. The teams, which include a clinician and an early intervention specialist, will reduce wait times and help smooth the enrollment process for children with developmental delays who are determined to be eligible for Early Steps. The contract, to run from Dec. 11, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018, is not to exceed $550,000.
Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County – a special-purpose government established by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014 – provides leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county's children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong. For more information, visit www.cscpbc.org or contact Shana Cooper, Public Information Officer, at 561.374.7570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.