Prior staff member, Laurie Tyrrell, had the vision of helping parents reunite with their very young children. As she stated,
“My husband and I were foster parents for over 75 infants and very young children. Over the years I meet many struggling parents who truly loved and cared about their kids, and wanted to reunite and rebuild their family, but lacked basic life and family skills. They would cooperate with their social worker and complete all requirements to reunify with their children, and many times the parent would complete their parenting classes, but I could see that they still had no idea how to put that information to use. Each time I returned a child to one of these parents, my heart would go out and I wanted to go home with the parent to help them learn how to care for their child and maintain a home that is safe and clean.”
This idea became a reality when in late 2010, Placer First 5 approved seed money to launch a Family Mentor program.
In 2018, our Mental Health Services Act funding helped us to expand the Family Mentor Program to include parents of older children.
The Family Mentor program provides a volunteer to work with our at-risk parents for a minimum of 90 days. The Family Mentor visits the home of the parent each week and helps them to develop a variety of life skills surrounding sobriety, budgeting, organization, parenting, health, nutrition, education, career and job search etc. Family Mentors provide parents with several organizational tools such as a day planner and file box. Additionally, when parents reach certain milestones, we are able to provide them with a laptop computer.
Our Family Mentors are highly trained volunteers who have gone through 30 hours of training.
The goals of the Family Mentor program are:
- To prevent the child from entering or re-entering the child welfare system.
- To help the parent(s) become more independent and self-sufficient.
- To help parents achieve their goals and identify healthy, viable community resources.
- To provide more emotional and social stability to the child and the child’s family.