Once again through the magic of connections, I was introduced to a wonderful organization, Child Safe Michigan. Their mentoring program is the only successful community-based program in the State of Michigan that is solely focused on serving youth in the foster care system. In April 2019, Child Safe Michigan was recognized for their great efforts and awarded the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Team Excellence Award. Child Safe is affiliated with another phenomenal organization in Southeast Michigan, the Judson Center, a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, which provides physical health, mental health, and substance use disorder services for children, adolescents, adults, and families.
You know how I keep saying great connections work by providing introductions to impressive organizations making a difference in our communities. While I truly can take the introduction to Child Safe Michigan back to the very first newsletter from the 3rd Act, the major contributors to my interest to learn more about foster care in Michigan came from my interview with Sam and Becky Misuraca, founders of Building Beds 4 Kids.
They introduced me to Rev. Kate Thoresen, the marvelous pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, who oversees the Foster/Adoptive Families Partnerships missions through her coordination of Faith Communities Coalition throughout the state of Michigan. Pastor Kate introduced me to Nicole Malane, Mentor Program Supervisor of Child Safe Michigan, who led an informative presentation last Friday hosted by Kirk in the Hills Church of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
I know that was a lot to digest, but it is still amazing to me how all these great connections lead to another great program or interview that I feel is informative and worthwhile for the 3rd Act community to hear about and hopefully get involved in. I have a strong feeling that my new introductions to Kirk in the Hills will lead to more important missions taking place in our community.
Importantly, the subject of today’s newsletter is providing some important information and background on Child Safe Michigan and how you can get involved if you feel motivated. The presentation on Friday was focused on the mentoring program at Child Safe Michigan. Nicole Malane reviewed the mentoring program through a Zoom recording last Friday and walked through many of the questions anyone interested in becoming a mentor should consider. I will provide the Child Safe website, but I thought I would spotlight a few important elements toward becoming a mentor. In 2020, Child Safe matched 47 children with mentors. In 2019, prior to COVID, the program matched 70 children with mentors.
First, mentors are friends, advocates, and supporters of children between 7 and 23 years old, who listen, care, and have fun with their mentee. To become a mentor, Child Safe starts with an interview to get to know you, followed by a training session that covers all the important questions and commitments to the program and the child. They do background checks on all mentors to ensure the safety of the children.
A common question: If I become a mentor, how do they decide who I get matched up with? Matches are made based on geographic location and common interests. They want to make sure it is as easy as possible for you and your mentee to spend time together.
Another important question: What kind of kids does Child Safe serve in the mentoring program? The mentoring program is dedicated to mentoring children in foster care at Child Safe, Judson Center, and other local foster care agencies. And a third question: How much time does it require, and what is the period of commitment? Child Safe asks that the mentor meets with the mentee at least two times per month to build a strong and lasting relationship. In addition, they ask for a minimum one-year commitment from the mentors and mentees. However, the average length of a match is about 2 and ½ years and 30% of the mentors and mentees have been matched for over 4 years.
A few more common questions have to do with where to go and what to do. They say you can do almost anything that you both enjoy. Some examples are: getting coffee and catching up, going to a sporting event, studying and reviewing school work, volunteering for another organization, going to the library, or going to the cider mill.
Finally, a question and answer about the cost of being a mentor. Any costs incurred are the responsibility of the mentor. However, they have a ton of ideas of things to do that don’t cost anything. And sometimes they have access to tickets to sporting events, Greenfield Village, and a number of other events in the area. In addition, Child Safe hosts about four activities per year that all the mentors and mentees are invited to attend.
The questions and answers above are only provided to give you a good idea of the time and commitment necessary to make the mentor program work for both the mentor and importantly the mentee. For a complete review of the program, I would invite you to contact Child Safe to talk to the many talented people at the organization that can help you with any unanswered questions. For questions related to the Mentor Program please email Tiffney Mullinax at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or call 248-837-2073.
I thought it would be informative and beneficial to provide a great video from their website that will allow you to get a good feeling about Child Safe through comments from employees and mentors.
Please check out the Child Safe website for more information. www.childsafemichigan.org , contact number 248-353-0921.
The video provided below gives a great overview of the program and has some touching comments from the leaders and families involved in adoptive care and mentoring children.
Start Thinking About Easter
Join Kids Empowered: On the Move is bringing Easter baskets to over 500 kids and Easter dinner to 200 families in Pontiac, Michigan. Go to https://kidsempoweredonthemove.org/ to sponsor a family with Easter baskets and/or meals.
Choose a family from the list and create fun Easter baskets for each member. Baskets can be delivered anytime until April 3rd. If you can’t deliver we can have a volunteer deliver for you. Just email email@example.com to let her know. You can also sponsor our efforts by making a financial donation to buy a catered Easter meal that will be delivered on April 3rd to 200 families and extra baskets for kids. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-840-9858.
Please consider our families in need as we power through February. I think both the mentoring program and Easter basket/meal program provide a few great opportunities to get involved.
All the best to you and your family,
Roger N. Steed