Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $2,500,000)
The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, Category 1 (National Mentoring Program) provides funding to support national mentoring organizations in their efforts to strengthen and/or expand their existing mentoring activities within local chapters or sub-awardees (in at least 45 states) to reduce juvenile delinquency, drug abuse (specifically opioid abuse), truancy, and other problem and high-risk behaviors. FY 2020 funding will address the factors that can lead to or serve as a catalyst for delinquency or other problem behaviors in underserved youth, including youth in high-risk environments. Programs are required to target American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth, and also highly encouraged to target their mentoring services to children of parents on active military duty; children of incarcerated parents; youth impacted by opioids and drug addiction; youth in rural communities; and youth that experience bullying (including cyberbullying). Programs are also highly encouraged to incorporate youth and law enforcement engagement activities. This program is authorized by Pub. L. No. 116-93, 133 Stat. 2317, 2410.
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA) will implement a one-on-one mentoring program that targets an increase in mentoring advocacy to the at-risk and high-risk population of youth in foster care, with the goals of increasing the number of American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) youth, youth living in rural areas, children of incarcerated parents, and youth affected by the opioid crisis. Family engagement is central to CASA volunteer involvement, and one of the program's guiding principles is that children remain with their family of origin whenever safely possible. Among multiple outcomes, the program will increase the number of youth in foster care who demonstrate improvement on multiple behavioral, educational, life skills, and health outcomes. The project objectives are (1) increase the capacity of local programs to recruit, screen, train, supervise, and retain CASA volunteer mentors; (2) expand and enhance the capacity of at least 38 local programs in at least 38 of the 49 states served by the CASA network; (3) increase the provision of one-on-one mentoring services to underserved and at-risk or high-risk youth in foster care by recruiting, screening, and training additional volunteers and serve additional youth in foster care, including AI/AN youth and youth living in rural areas; (4) increase training to mentor advocates serving populations of color, including AI/AN youth, and specialized training for children impacted by opioid abuse; (5) work with courts and collaborative partners to ensure youth achieve permanency; (6) regularly engage the family in their efforts on behalf of the child, using open communication to ensure the family understands the role and activities of the mentor; (7) implement specialized training for mentors to directly address the impact of bullying (including cyberbullying) on youth and how to most effectively serve them; and (8) develop a new curriculum for advocates about the impact of bullying on youth in foster care and how best to serve them. CA/NCF