Mentor Program

Mentor Program Mission Statement

The mission of A Family For Every Child's Mentor Program is to unite foster care and at-risk youth in our community with enthusiastic, dedicated, and caring adults who can provide friendship and encouragement while supporting them through life’s various transitions, instilling independence and ultimately building long lasting bonds.

Program Goals

Since the Mentor Program’s inception in 2007, the vision of the program has been to connect youth with positive members of their community to build friendships and have role models who:

  • Provide youth with support and guidance
  • Provide the youth with someone to call and hang out  "just because."
  • Provide a potentially permanent bond for the youth.
  • Teach independent living/life skills, instill creativity, and promote the youth's self esteem.

Who We Serve

A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program serves Oregon youth in Lane County, the greater Portland area, and other areas of Western Oregon. We serve children who are at risk and in need of permanent connections due to being in foster care or have been exposed to experience that could hinder their full potential.

How Do I Refer My Youth?

Parents, caseworkers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents... almost anyone can refer a youth! A pillar of our program is that all youth participation is voluntary -- every youth in our program is in it because they want to be and no youth shall ever be forced to have a mentor. Know a youth who needs mentor?

What Does A Mentor Do?

There aren’t any typical mentor matches as we don’t have typical youth or mentors. The beauty of A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program is that it allows for each mentor match to be distinctive. Mentors and youth are matched based upon their mutual interests, not by numbers on a waiting list. Your mentor experience will be as unique as you are! What are your interests? What are your passions? What do you like to do to pass the time? Mentoring is so easy because all you have to do is include your youth in the things you already like to do!

How Do I Become A Mentor?

Becoming a mentor doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Most mentors are matched within six weeks of submitting their application! You’ll find that it’s easier than ever to make a difference in a youth’s life.

Sports and Outdoors Mentor Program

Designed for our male youth, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program makes mentoring more accessible than ever. With a focus on physical activities, lower mentor age requirement and shorter 6 month commitment period, we're breaking down the barriers of male mentoring and creating new possibilities for youth who typically wait longer for their very own mentors

Non Traditional Mentor Program

New for Fall 2019, our NTMP places our Volunteers in specific locations within Lane County. We are kicking off the new program at the Eugene Library and area middle and high schools. Volunteers will be available in the Teen Center  / Family Resource Rooms to meet with youth for homework support, conversation, play a game of cards, etc. It is our belief that organic connections will be made.  After establishing a relationship with a youth for several months, transitioning to our traditional Mentor Program is always an option.

Requirements include:

19 + yrs old / 2-3 hours , once or twice a week

complete Volunteer application including 3 references/ background check

 

Mentor Program

Mentor Program Mission Statement

The mission of A Family For Every Child's Mentor Program is to unite foster care and at-risk youth in our community with enthusiastic, dedicated, and caring adults who can provide friendship and encouragement while supporting them through life’s various transitions, instilling independence and ultimately building long lasting bonds.

Program Goals

Since the Mentor Program’s inception in 2007, the vision of the program has been to connect youth with positive members of their community to build friendships and have role models who:

  • Provide youth with support and guidance
  • Provide the youth with someone to call and hang out  "just because."
  • Provide a potentially permanent bond for the youth.
  • Teach independent living/life skills, instill creativity, and promote the youth's self esteem.

Who We Serve

A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program currently serves youth in Lane County Oregon. We have temporarly suspended the program in the greater Portland area and other areas of Western Oregon for the time being. We serve children who are at risk and in need of permanent connections due to being in foster care or have been exposed to experience that could hinder their full potential.

How Do I Refer My Youth?

Parents, caseworkers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents... almost anyone can refer a youth! A pillar of our program is that all youth participation is voluntary -- every youth in our program is in it because they want to be and no youth shall ever be forced to have a mentor. Know a youth who needs mentor?

What Does A Mentor Do?

There aren’t any typical mentor matches as we don’t have typical youth or mentors. The beauty of A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program is that it allows for each mentor match to be distinctive. Mentors and youth are matched based upon their mutual interests, not by numbers on a waiting list. Your mentor experience will be as unique as you are! What are your interests? What are your passions? What do you like to do to pass the time? Mentoring is so easy because all you have to do is include your youth in the things you already like to do!

How Do I Become A Mentor?

Becoming a mentor doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Most mentors are matched within six weeks of submitting their application! You’ll find that it’s easier than ever to make a difference in a youth’s life.

Sports and Outdoors Mentor Program

Designed for our male youth, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program makes mentoring more accessible than ever. With a focus on physical activities, lower mentor age requirement and shorter 6 month commitment period, we're breaking down the barriers of male mentoring and creating new possibilities for youth who typically wait longer for their very own mentors

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One of A Family For Every Child’s many programs is the Lifebook Program, which provides special photo album scrapbooks that are put together for foster children.

Life Books and Welcome Books

A LifeBook is a meaningful collection of pictures and memorabilia designed for foster children. These scrapbooks are typically made of 8.5 x 11 pages that are compiled in an album or binder after being decorated with pictures and mementos from the child’s life. These scrapbooks are able to explain the story of the child’s birth, information about their birth parents, and the reason for their separation. The pages also include important moments of their life and adoption.

A Welcome Book is a wonderful resource that helps introduce an adopted child to their new family. These scrapbooks, which are usually made of 8 x 8 pages, help the newly adopted child become familiar with the things they will encounter as a part of this family. The family is able to introduce themselves to the adopted child through this album by including information and pictures about family members, relatives, pets, the kid’s bedroom, the house, and their school.

Impacts

These special photo album scrapbooks can make a unique impact on the children who receive them. They have the ability to explain hard things to the child, such as how they entered the foster program and into an adopted family. It is an opportunity to give the child information about their birth parents that they may otherwise not know. These scrapbooks can also help the child understand and become comfortable with the vocabulary associated with the foster program and adoption. Because most of the children receiving these books don’t have many pictures of themselves, these scrapbooks can give the child a special sense of security, stability and a positive identity.

 

Best of all, these scrapbooks are visible reminders of the important events in a child’s life and provide special memories that they can always look back on. In preserving these life stories, they also provide a wonderful way for a found family to acknowledge and honor the life that the child has had before coming into their home. Space is left at the end of the book to allow the child to look forward to a future of making new memories with their found family.

Volunteer Opportunities

These books are a free resource for parents or caseworkers who would like to put one together for a foster child. When a caseworker or parent requests a book, a Lifebook co-coordinator gathers together a collection of pages that have been made by volunteers. The pages are hand-selected according to the personality and preferences of the child. The pages are then mailed off to the parent or caseworker who puts the pages together with pictures before giving the book to the child. 

Volunteers can help out with the Lifebook program in several ways:

Donations of scrapbooking supplies are welcome. Some supplies such as stamps or punches cannot be used, but other items such as paper, stickers and adhesives are welcome and needed.

Because these scrapbooks are a free resource to parents and caseworkers, monetary donations are also welcome. These monetary donations can ensure that a parent or caseworker will not have to pay for postage when the scrapbook pages get shipped. If you are interested in making a cash donation, please make sure that you designate the donation for the Life and Welcome Books so that it can be sure to be used for this purpose.

Volunteers can also be involved in helping make the scrapbook pages. To get involved and to find out how to deliver the pages to AFFEC, you can contact a Lifebook Co-Coordinator. These pages do not need to be elaborate, as they need to have room for pictures and the kids’ own personalization. The scrapbook pages are created in a variety of categories including: babies, girls and boys, brothers and sisters, grandparents, parents, birthdays, holidays, seasons, school, sports, pets, faith, new rooms or places in a house, friends and more.

More Information

For more information, follow these links to learn more about:

 

The Lifebook Program

Ways to donate to this program

How to request a Lifebook

 

You can also contact a LifeBook Co-Coordinator:

Gail VanGundy

Lifebook Co-Coordinator

541-525-3500 (call or text)

 

Lifebook@afamilyforeverychild.org

Adoption Agency | By State

A Family for Every Child is currently licensed for Adoption in the following states, with plans to expand in the future! Don't see your state? Email us and we can help you find resources!

Oregon Adoption Agency

An Oregon Adoption Agency Since 2008!

A Family For Every Child (AFFEC), a non profit organization, began with its founder Christy Obie-Barrett, a mother of 12 children – 9 of which are adopted. Christy wanted to make a difference in the lives of more children and found a way through non profits. In January 2006, AFFEC was created to help find permanent homes for many of Oregon’s waiting children with special focus on special needs/hard to place children.

In 2008, A Family for Every Child became licensed as an adoption agency in the State of Oregon, beginning the next stage of our journey!

As an adoption agency, A Family for Every Child has developed our own systems and applications to optimize the adoption process, making it easier for everyone involved! We pride ourselves in completing home studies faster and more affordably (We only charge what it costs us!) than traditional adoption agencies. Families who choose our agency can expect transparency and collaboration throughout the home study process!

 

Teaching Your Child Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness has become a bit of a ‘buzzword’ in the mental health community. But, it’s for a good reason. It is a technique that is used to help with everything from anxiety to overwhelming stress. It can be especially helpful when it comes to easing the anxiety of children who may have gone through some type of trauma or stressful situation. 

One of the strategies of self-regulation that counselors use is promoting self-awareness. Mindfulness and self-regulation are closely related in that regard, as the practice allows your child to stop, breathe, and focus on the present moment rather than the past or future. 

Teaching your child how to be more mindful in their everyday lives shows them that their mental health is important and should be taken care of. It is a valuable life lesson that they can take with them well into adulthood to better manage stress or anything the world might throw their way. 

Why is Mindfulness Important? 

Up to 80% of children in the foster system have mental health conditions of some kind. Even after getting adopted, children can still deal with mental health issues for years to come. In some cases, things like counseling or therapy are the best options. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can help your child with at home that will allow them to better manage some of their symptoms. 

That’s why mindfulness is so important. 

Because mindfulness focuses on the present, it can allow your child to let go of the things in the past that hurt them or that they might be scared of. There are both physical and mental benefits of practicing mindfulness. Some of the physical benefits include: 

Reduced symptoms of stress

Reduced pain

Reduced sleep issues

Reduced gastrointestinal problems

From a mental or emotional standpoint, mindfulness can help your child to practice more self-control, become more adaptable, and improve their mental clarity. It is a technique that can and should be used in moments that feel too overwhelming to handle. 

Techniques You Can Teach Your Child

Simply put, mindfulness is about focusing on breathing and the present moment in the world around you. When you are practicing mindfulness, everything from the past and future goes away. 

One way to express this to your child is to tell them to imagine their thoughts as clouds floating above them. The clouds can pass through freely (meaning, it’s okay to let those thoughts come in), but you cannot hang onto them. The thoughts eventually disappear. The result is typically a more relaxed state where worries of the past or future don’t feel so overwhelming. 

Belly breathing is another great mindfulness technique. You can begin by having your child take a moment to notice their breath, its pace, what it feels like. Then, have them lay down and place one hand on their chest and one on their belly. As they inhale, they want to fill up their belly like a balloon and as they exhale they can allow the balloon to deflate. Since our breath often tends to stay up in our chest, this way of breathing may feel counterintuitive. However, it is shown to trigger a relaxation response in the body.

If your child has mastered this technique, you can encourage them to practice counting while they breathe: in through the nose for 4, hold for 4, and slowly let the air out of their belly and chest for 8. 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is another engaging mindfulness activity to practice. Take turns naming five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.

Lastly, there are tons of free guided meditations you can access online! Taking some time out of the day to listen to one of these together is a great way to encourage regular mindfulness.

Creating the Best Environment

While the practice of mindfulness can be done anywhere, it’s a good idea to set your child up for success with the right environment. For example, studies have shown that being out in nature can improve mental health and reduce stress. Or, you can bring nature into your home by creating a special spot or room for relaxation. Adding plants to any room in your house can promote mental health by: 

Increasing creativity

Boosting focus

Strengthening memory

Decreasing stress and anxiety

Boosting mood

Having a specific area where your child can close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and stay in tune with the present can make the practice of mindfulness easier for them. It only takes a few minutes a day to get into the mindfulness mindset, and it is a skill that will be helpful to them throughout their lives. So, share the importance of mindfulness with your child and guide them through the best techniques to make it a habit.

 

Author's Bio

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to child development, health and wellness, mindfulness, and productivity. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn 

 

Virtual Mentor Program

Physical Distance Does Not Mean Social Isolation

A Family For Every Child's Virtual Mentor Program provides support and guidance to youth utilizing technology versus face to face. Once social distancing has been relaxed, transitioning to our traditional Mentor Program is an option after a home visit. Communicating remotely and through technology can offer youth a bit of a "shield" or safer vantage point to share information. Sharing online as opposed to in person, they are able to compose better responses, take time to gather their emotions and opt out of a difficult conversation if needed.

How Virtual Mentoring Works

To become a Mentor in our Virtual Mentor Program, you will follow the same steps as with our traditional Mentor Program. Once matched with a youth, the Mentor will connect weekly via phone call, text, email or other electronic means. 

What Is Required To Participate?

  • 21 years old
  • Have a reliable internet connection / cell phone
  • 1 year commitment
  • Volunteer application & 3 references
  • Background check
  • Interview and Orientation
  • Option to transition to our traditional Mentor Program after an approved home visit
  • Submit a Monthly Mentor Report

Guest Blog Post Guidelines

Content

  • Our blog aims to provide relevant, useful articles to current/soon-to-be foster families. As such, all articles must be related to to the subject(s) of adoption, child-care, and foster-families. Any articles deviating from these subjects will not be considered for posting.
  • Only one link to personal sites allowed within an author's bio. This link must be to a personal website or social media account. If you would like more than one link to a personal site, you must pay for a sponsored blog post.
  • In order to more easily provide accurate, authoritative content to our readers, only one link to relevant sources is allowed per two-hundred words written. These links cannot be spam nor advertisements. Upon discovery of these misleading/spam links, your post will be removed and you will no longer be allowed as a guest blogger. If you believe you have a good reason for including extra links, you may email blog@afamilyforeverychild.org with your reasoning.
  • Blog posts will grammatical errors will not be accepted.

Images

All images used in blog posts must be in the public domain. 

Tone

All blog posts should follow a professional tone that aims toward empowering and educating either soon-to-be or current foster families/children.

Authorship

[details on what types of authors we're willing to accept]

Article Length

[Guidelines specifying desired word count]

Questions?

All questions or comments should be directed to blog@afamilyforeverychild.org