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Mentorship Effort Launched To Increase Success for Foster Youth

Anchorage - On Friday Alaska Community Services (ACS) will announce an important new effort to provide mentors for youth coming out of foster care.  Currently Alaska has roughly 2,000 foster youth.  According to a recent UAA study, roughly 40% of these youth end up homeless at some point in their lives after leaving state custody.  A press conference with foster youth and leaders who've worked to launch this effort will be held at 11 a.m. at ACS's Anchorage office, located at 1057 Fireweed Lane, Suite 103.  Those participating by phone may call 276-6472, or 800-770-6472. 

"For too many, everything falls apart once they leave care," said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anch), who grew up in foster care.  Gara and Amanda Metivier, founder of the advocacy group Facing Foster Care in Alaska, brought the proposal to ACS, which began its work to implement the project last summer.

Mike Saville, Executive Director of ACS, which worked to design the new mentorship effort, announced: "Today Alaska Community Services will kick-off 'Mentoring Spirit,' a private effort to match youth between ages of 16 ½ and 19 with mentors as they prepare for life after foster care.  Mentoring Spirit aims to assist these youth as they journey from youth to success in adulthood.  Spirit mentors will work with youth, and their parents or foster parents to provide support, counsel, friendship and constructive example."

"Today too many youth coming out of foster care don't have the support they need to succeed and achieve their potential.  Mentorship for older youth started out as an idea we and Rep. Gara crafted together after a series of foster care hearings, when it became obvious that solutions were needed to help youth transition to adult success.  We were excited when Alaska Community Services, which currently provides mentorship for young foster youth, told us they wanted to spearhead the effort.  Their work getting this off the ground will make a difference in a lot of lives," said Metivier.

"Putting our effort into fostering success is smarter than putting more money into law enforcement, welfare and jail.  These youth want to succeed.  The community wants to help.  Providing a responsible adult for youth who often don't have one to rely on is an important missing ingredient.  ACS's work to turn an idea into reality has been crucial."

The project aims to start with 20 matches.  The State Office of Children's Services has worked to support this effort, and will refer youth who might benefit from mentorship to ACS.  If you'd like to volunteer as a mentor, ACS is considering applications and can be contacted in Anchorage at 276-6472.

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