Displaying items by tag: Safety

MAY 23, 2017

Over the past several weeks, many youth development professionals have become aware of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, which revolves around the suicide of a female high school student, Hannah Baker. Due to its fast-spreading popularity, whether or not you have seen it, you may have received questions from parents and youth about the themes that are addressed in the series. These themes, many of which are uncomfortable and controversial, are nonetheless important to talk about, especially with students of a similar age to the characters depicted on the show. Conversations about mental health and suicide can reduce the stigma behind these experiences to allow those who are suffering to know that they are not alone and can get help. However, because of the complexity of these topics and the ways in which they are depicted in the series, parents/guardians, school administrators, and youth development professionals should be aware of the questions and concerns young people may have after watching it, so they can be prepared for the important discussions the series may spark.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series’ premise, the story unfolds through a series of pre-recorded tapes on which the main character, Hannah Baker, describes thirteen reasons that led up to her suicide. Through the episodes the audience finds out that Hannah has had many rumors spread about her, and that eventually she was the target of bullying, social isolation, and sexual abuse. Below, we offer some information about the complex themes addressed in the show, and where you can go for more resources. As we know many parents and youth development professionals have been addressing these topics with youth, we invite you to post other resources and tips you have found useful in the comments section below.

Published in NMRC Blog
Friday, 15 March 2019 11:50


MARCH 15, 2019

Art Heals!

Karen pulls up to the suburban four-bedroom home in West Phoenix, opens her trunk and pulls out two green canvas bags that read “Free Arts” on the side. She looks up and notices a small face pressed against the glass in the front window. The front door swings open and a staff member from the foster care group home unlocks the screen from the inside, letting Karen into the house. Immediately, two grade school aged girls run up and ask, “What are we making today, Miss Karen?” “You’ll see!” Karen replies with a twinkle in her eye. “Want to help me set out the supplies?” The girls agree and set to work. Soon, five other girls trickle into the kitchen area, some with wet hair fresh from the shower, others already in their pajamas. They gather around the large dining table, picking up supplies and asking excited questions, “Are these for us?” “What are these?” “Ooo, shiny!” one exclaims about some stickers fresh from the package. “I’m new here, who are you?” one asks.

Published in NMRC Blog
Wednesday, 29 November 2017 09:14

Bulletin Examines Trauma-Informed Classrooms

NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Trauma Informed Classrooms

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has released "Trauma-Informed Classrooms." This OJJDP-funded technical assistance bulletin provides an overview of the impact of trauma on students and explores how adverse life experiences can impact their behavior in the classroom. The bulletin also offers strategies for creating trauma-informed classrooms. This bulletin and the associated webinar will be useful for youth practitioners across the board because integrating a trauma-informed approach into your program’s policies and procedures fosters resilience and recovery for the youth that you serve. This information may be especially relevant to mentoring practitioners implementing school-based or group mentoring models, since many of its recommendations – like its discussion of common classroom triggers, for example – can be applied to programs that bring young people and adults together regularly in groups.


Pickens, I.B., & Tschopp, N. (2017). Trauma-Informed Classrooms. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Published in NMRC Blog
OCTOBER 16, 2020

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but at Camp Mariposa, every month is bullying prevention month. Camp Mariposa is a national addiction prevention and mentoring program that serves youth ages 9–17 who are affected by a family member’s substance use disorder. Camp Mariposa is funded and coordinated by Eluna, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to support children and families impacted by addiction. Camp Mariposa uses a group and peer mentoring model in which youth and trained adult mentors make a one-year commitment to the program. Many youth who attend Camp Mariposa have experienced bullying and significant trauma—including abuse, neglect, and the addiction-related loss of loved ones due to incarceration and/or death. The mentors and staff at Camp Mariposa create a safe and supportive community where kids can be kids and escape the challenges of their daily lives.

Published in NMRC Blog
APRIL 9, 2019

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time for communities nationwide to encourage action to improve the safety and well-being of youth. National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance that focuses on promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families, and raising awareness about the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. According to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report, 3.5 million children were subject to at least one maltreatment report in fiscal year 2017. OJJDP is partnering with the HHS Administration for Children and Families’ Children’s Bureau, the National Children’s Alliance, and OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center to promote community partnerships and support efforts to address child abuse and neglect. Learn more about these partnerships and what you can do to end child abuse.

Published in NMRC Blog
Friday, 19 August 2016 11:03

Cure Violence (Chicago, Illinois)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on November 21, 2011

Program Summary

A violence prevention program that uses a public health approach, using trained street violence interrupters and outreach workers, public education campaigns, and community mobilization to reduce shootings and killings. This program is rated Promising. The program was associated with significant reductions in shootings, killings, and retaliatory homicides and also appeared to make shooting hot spots cooler in some neighborhoods but not others.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

APRIL 3, 2017

A blog about ethical dilemmas in mentoring? I was intrigued by the idea, but I also had some reservations. Blogs are fun, catchy, personal, creative. And they often feature pictures like this:

And ethical dilemmas? They are not cute. They are by definition complicated and confusing. They can also be difficult, scary, and controversial. For folks working with youth, ethical dilemmas can be particularly challenging because a child’s well-being, or the well-being of an entire organization, is likely to be affected. The stakes are high, and decisions are not easy.

Consider the following story that was shared with me by a social worker who was doing mentoring with high school students in a school setting:

Published in NMRC Blog

Denver Children's Home

Denver Children’s Home, Bansbach Academy (DCH) is a Colorado Department of Education accredited facility-based school that serve students who have experienced trauma and have learning difficulties as a result. Because of the experiences of these youth, DCH strives to consistently and intentionally connect its youth with qualified adults who will work in the youths’ best interests. According to Marisa A. Murgolo, LCSW, who is DCH’s Director of Daytime & Community Based Programs, the Children’s Home emphasizes “exposing [youth] to adults who are safe and invested in their growth.”

In order to achieve this goal, DCH reached out to MENTOR Colorado’s Drew DeMarie. The Denver Children’s Home applied to receive no-cost Technical Assistance (TA) through the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC). “We wanted to develop a training protocol for mentors,” Murgolo says, “who will be working with children and adolescents with trauma backgrounds, mental health issues, and educational challenges.”

Denver Children's Home.jpgDeMarie used therapeutic crisis intervention practices and training materials based off MENTOR’s Element of Effective Practice in Mentoring (EEPM) Toolkit to develop guidance for DCH mentors. Through a combination of in-person trainings and phone and video conference calls, DeMarie collaborated with Murgolo and DCH’s Educational Director, Annie Haskins, to create two 3-hour training sessions for incoming mentors that would prepare them to meet the needs of DCH’s unique population. “Our students have special challenges, Haskins says. “Drew was skilled in helping us navigate their needs and build aspects of the program that weren’t possible prior to his involvement.”

Because of their NMRC TA, Denver Children’s Home has the resources to provide its mentors with guidance on best practices in trauma-informed mentoring and enhance the support it provides for its youth. As Murgolo and Haskins agree, “we have a training program for mentors that we feel confident about.”

“DCH now has some of the training tools to guide interested volunteers towards becoming trauma-informed, effective mentors,” DeMarie says.

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) partners with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to deliver the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) to the mentoring field. In addition to convening a Research Board which develops evidence-based reviews about mentoring topics, and offering a comprehensive mentoring resource center website, the NMRC provides mentoring programs nationwide with the opportunity to request and receive no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests technical assistance, their request is assigned to a local or regional technical assistance provider within MENTOR's network of state and local affiliates and TA providers. New and emerging mentoring programs may benefit from technical assistance to help them design and implement programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, while existing or established programs may utilize TA to improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.

Learn more about Denver Children’s Home here, and MENTOR Colorado here. Submit a request for no-cost technical assistance for your youth mentoring program here.

Published in TA Spotlights

Friends of the ChildrenFounded in Portland, Oregon in 1993, Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit that works to break the cycle of generational poverty by empowering youth to change their own stories. What began with three salaried, professional mentors and 24 children has grown to serve thousands of children in 15 communities nationally and in the U.K. Fueled by federal grants – including grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – and private philanthropy, Friends of the Children is positioned to double enrollment in the next four years, with the ultimate goal of expanding to 25 cities by 2025.

Mentoring Model

Friends of the ChildrenFriends of the Children selects children who are experiencing foster care or are in high-poverty schools and pairs them with a salaried, professional mentor (called a Friend) who mentors them from kindergarten through high school graduation – 12 ½ years, no matter what.

The children who qualify for the program are youth whose exposure to multiple compounding risk factors and adverse childhood experiences has already begun to manifest in behavioral and other challenges. Friends spend 16 intentional hours per month with each child in the classroom, at home, and in the community. Friends ensure the social and emotional development, safety, well-being, and educational success of the youth under their care.

Over the past 25 years, Friends of the Children has developed a strong reputation based on the achievement of proven, measurable outcomes for youth facing the greatest obstacles. An evaluation of program graduates showed that:

  • 83% of youth graduate from high school, though more than 60% have a parent who did not have the necessary support to complete high school themselves
  • 93% of youth avoid the juvenile justice system, though 50% have a parent impacted by the criminal justice system
  • 98% of youth wait until after their teen years to become parents, though 85% were born to a teen parent
  • 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or find employment

Historically, greater than 40% of the youth served by Friends of the Children have experienced out-of-home placements, either through the formal foster care system or through informal placement with kin. Youth who graduate from Friends of the Children achieve these long-term programmatic outcomes at the same rate as their program peers – remarkable results considering the national statistics for youth aging out of foster care.

Incorporating the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM

In order to meet the needs of the youth served, and to ensure that the program is both trauma-informed and culturally responsive, the organization has been working to not only meet, but exceed the Benchmarks and Enhancements under Standard 3 in the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM

Friends of the Children incorporates the Elements by:

  • Providing 40+ hours of comprehensive pre-match training
  • Using training practices and materials that are informed by empirical research or are themselves empirically evaluated
  • Supporting mentors to advance their ongoing professional development in topics such as child development, being trauma informed, and employing culturally-responsive mentoring practices

Support from OJJDP

Since 2015, grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) have enhanced Friends of the Children’s training curriculum in critical topic areas, such as family and school advocacy, navigating systems and child welfare, and supporting youth whose caregivers have been incarcerated.

Most recently, OJJDP funding is supporting Friends of the Children to develop a more robust Program Quality Improvement system to enhance, track, and monitor the effectiveness of all training and professional development activities for mentoring and supervision across its national network.

Connections to Evidence-Based Practice: Child Neglect and Abuse Prevention

Friends of the Children is working to build its evidence-base as a child neglect and abuse prevention and intervention program. The program is proven to build protective factors, which are conditions or attributes that mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities. Meaningful relationships with a positive adult role model have been shown repeatedly in scientific studies to be a protective factor, even for youth who are growing up in very difficult circumstances (DuBois, & Silverthorn, N, 2005).

According to the Children’s Bureau, there are six protective factors that are shown to strengthen families and help parents who may be more likely to make poor decisions that can lead to abuse or neglect (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2018). Third-party evaluations of the Friends of the Children program to date are showing evidence of impact in five of the six areas that build assets and lead to safer, stronger families.

In a recent study by the University of Washington, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, biological families, foster, kinship and adoptive caregivers reported positive impact from the Friends of the Children program in the following four areas: (a) Advocating and Connecting, (b) Knowledge and Skill Building, (c) Relational Support, and (d) Other Types of Support. Concrete examples of these themes include:

  • Friends acting as advocates and liaisons for youth and caregivers as well as helping them navigate complicated systems, including education and child welfare
  • Friends connecting participants and their families to various resources such as counseling, youth programs, transportation assistance, and material resources, such as food and clothing
  • Friends providing various types of support in relation to youths’ education and empowering caregiver participation in school-related activities, such as supporting special needs and attending Individualized Education Program (IED) meetings
  • Friends providing parenting assistance to caregivers, such as working together on common goals, supporting caregivers with youths’ behavioral challenges, and providing insights about the youth caregivers

In addition to these qualitative findings, early findings from the Friends of the Children ongoing multi-site randomized control trial (RCT) evaluation found that parents/caregivers involved in the Friends program are significantly more likely to have a positive perception of their child’s behavior in and out of school - another protective factor for successful parenting (Eddy et al.,2017).

Next Steps

Friends of the Children

Recognizing the power of the model, cross-sector leaders in Los Angeles and New York City have invited Friends of the Children to pioneer a two-generation (“2Gen”) pilot initiative. In those cities, the program is partnering with community-based organizations’ serving parents who have experienced foster care to create a pipeline for youth enrollment.

Parents and their 4-6 year-old children are joining as participants in the program, receiving peer-to-peer support and connections to resources aimed at advancing economic mobility such as housing, education, and workforce development. Third-party evaluators will test whether the Friends of the Children 2Gen approach strengthens family stability, builds stronger networks of family support, improves system access and navigation skills, and creates opportunity for school and career success for both youth and their parents.

As part of its national expansion, Friends of the Children is also working more closely with child welfare agencies around the country to advance its proven model as both a foster care intervention and child abuse prevention innovation that has the potential to create not only life-long change for youth and families, but lasting systems change. In order to help youth and families thrive, Friends of the Children continues to build protective factors that mitigate trauma and improve their safety and well-being.

Related Resources and References

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2018). Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2P10LrE
  • Dubois, D. L., & Silverthorn, N. (2005). Natural Mentoring Relationships and Adolescent Health: Evidence from a National Study. American Journal of Public Health, 95(3), 518-524.
  • Eddy, J. M., Martinez Jr, C. R., Grossman, J. B., Cearley, J. J., Herrera, D., Wheeler, A. C., … Seeley, J. R. (2017). A Randomized Control Trial of a Long-Term Professional Mentoring Program for Children at Risk: Outcomes Across the First 5 Years.
  • Salazar, AM,Haggerty, KP, Walsh, S, Noell, B, Kelley‐Siel, E. Adapting the Friends of the Children programme for child welfare system‐involved families. Child & Family Social Work.  2019; 1- 11.
Published in Featured Grantees

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on September 28, 2012

Program Summary

A comprehensive, multiyear initiative to reduce youth gang crime and violence through a combination of strategies. This program is rated Promising. It was associated with a significant decrease in the number of calls reporting shots fired and gang-related incidents in the target area. However, it did not have a significant effect on the number of calls reporting vandalism or gang or non-gang related serious violence incidents or on attendance levels of elementary, middle, or high schools.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

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