Mentors is the organization’s flagship program; it serves youth ages 7 and older who are impacted by foster care. The program matches youth in one-to-one mentoring relationships with adult volunteers committed to providing a consistent relationship for at least one year. Silver Lining is the only mentoring organization in Massachusetts that focuses exclusively on the unique needs of youth in foster care.
Silver Lining’s clinically-trained program staff provides ongoing support to each mentor/mentee match. Our team of licensed clinical social workers understands the needs of foster youth and coaches mentors to recognize the challenges that can result from a young person’s history of abuse and neglect. Staff members implement evidence-based intervention methods that are effective for work with youth in foster care. Personalized support helps promote longevity in mentoring relationships. Silver Lining Mentoring’s average match length is 55 months, more than 6 times the national average of 9 months.
Matches meet for at least 8 hours a month. They participate in various activities, such as taking art classes or playing sports. These activities encourage social development, and give youth opportunities to learn new skills and build strong relationships with their mentors. Mentors and mentees can also participate in group events which are organized and sponsored by Silver Lining. Group activities facilitate the development of positive peer relationships, build a sense of community, and allow mentees to connect with youth who have similar foster care experiences.
For many youth participants, their mentor is the only consistent adult figure in their life who is not a paid service provider, such as a social worker or residential staff member. Our Mentors program empowers youth by supporting committed mentorships, building healthy peer networks, fostering the development of life skills, increasing self-confidence, and improving optimism about the future.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the child welfare system, constitute one of the more under-served populations in our community. Because of the challenges they face, LGBTQ youth can benefit significantly from committed mentorships and increased access to employment training, education, and other critical job, and life skill resources.
Unfortunately, many LGBTQ youth in foster care experience rejection from their birth parents, foster parents, peers, and sometimes even the professionals hired to protect them (CASA, 2006).
Armed with this knowledge and the belief that all youth deserve supportive mentors, Silver Lining launched the LGBTQ mentoring initiative in 2012, which seeks to empower LGBTQ youth to develop a positive sense of self and belonging by providing committed, community-based mentoring relationships with LGBTQ-identified adult mentors. Our LGBTQ Mentoring Initiative follows the same guiding principles and policies as the Mentors program, except that it focuses exclusively on matching LGBTQ youth, with a LGBTQ or ally-identified adult.
(Source: Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, C. (2006). Addressing the needs of lgbtq youth in foster care. The Connection, Retrieved from here.)