Status of Current Independent Living Efforts (continued)
- Training and Independent Living Program Service Provision Education and Awareness
- Development of Independent Living Programs and Collaborative Efforts with Federal and State Agencies
- Housing Support for Older Youth in Care and Quality Assurance
- Life Skills Caseworker Services and Youth Leadership Development Activities
- Support for Post-Secondary Educational Aspirations
- Community Mentoring Program for Older Youth in Care
- Additional Independent Living Program Support
Community Mentoring Program for Older Youth in Care:
The AmeriCorps Mentoring Program in southern Maine has been in operation for the past three years. More than 30 mentoring matches have been made and more mentoring matches will be made in the near future. Some members of our Youth Leadership Advisory Team have mentioned the idea of "youth to youth" mentoring becoming a possibility. We are exploring the feasibility of that idea on a broader scale through the Youth Leadership Advisory Team.
We recently began collaborating with the University of Southern Maine Muskie School to expand the AmeriCorps mentoring project to other parts of the state. The Muskie School submitted a proposal to the federal AmeriCorps program that was recently approved for funding. This project will serve older youth in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Corrections and be available for 3 years. The Department of Health and Human Services is to have 10 AmeriCorps members available, in teams of two each, to provide direct mentoring services to youth at five sites located where these type of services are needed the most. The Department of Corrections is also receiving 10 AmeriCorps mentors who will be working out of the Maine Juvenile Drug Court program. Referrals to the AmeriCorps mentors would come directly from Life Skills casework staff and other Departmental casework staff who work with older youth in care. Our goal is to make mentoring a sustainable part of the Independent Living Program in Maine statewide. Mentors have been hired at some of the sites in other parts of the state and are actively working with older youth in care on portfolio development and life skills goals. The University of Southern Maine's Muskie School community mentoring site in southern Maine has been operating for about 3 years. More than 30 older youth in care are matched with mentors in that part of the state at the present time. We recognize that older youth in care need people who will remain involved with them after they leave care. We highly value the efforts of the community mentors who are matched with our older youth in care. With the statewide expansion of the program, we are hoping to see an additional 40 or 50 older youth in care matched with a mentor.