MISSOULA, Mont. — A national organization, Friends of the Children, is coming to Missoula. The organization focuses on youth mentoring, pairing professionals with children who have faced significant challenges.
“The organization pairs paid professional mentors called friends, with children who have big dreams and unique talents that also face significant adversity and systemic barriers in their lives. This includes hunger, housing insecurity, and household trauma,” said Ben Davis, Executive Director of the western Montana Friends of the Children.
The organization is expanding into Montana to collaborate with various community partners that work with kids facing crisis.
“Unfortunately, poverty is still in the greatest predictor of Child Welfare involvement,” said Davis. “Montana's in the in the top three states in the country in terms of the proportion of children in the foster care system.”
Davis notes that child abuse and neglect cases in the state have risen and 16% for Montana children who live in families that face poverty.
“We believe that we can make a difference in the lives of some of these children,” said Davis.
To start, the program is going to work with up to 16 kids in the Missoula area and plan to expand operations.
“Our goal is to impact change across generations for both youth and their families,” said Davis. “We're in this for the for the long haul, remember, 12 plus years, no matter what, that's our motto. So we're going to spend years working with families to help them on a path to health, security, and hopefully success.”
Click here to learn more about the organization and how to get involved.