Dayana grew up having close relationships with her three sisters and she feels fortunate to have always had their support and guidance. As a child, she had the confidence that comes from knowing they would always be there for her no matter what. When she learned about Children’s Aid and Family Services Mentoring Program five years ago, Dayana decided she wanted to help children and teenagers in foster care who often don’t have trusting relationships with the adults in their lives.
She began the process of becoming a mentor by attending training at the agency. “The goal of mentoring is to help the young people develop life skills so they are prepared for independent living,” Dayana says. For example, Isabella* is 19 and recently left the agency’s care. She is in her freshman year of college, a challenging time of transition during which a teenager needs a dependable adult in his or her life. To that end, Dayana speaks to her regularly and takes her out to eat often; she strives to incorporate life skills teaching into their outings. For example, she encourages Isabella to try new foods, speak respectfully to the server and calculate the tip. “I try to help Isabella with whatever she needs, even if it’s just someone to listen to her,” says Dayana.
Dayana believes being a mentor is a great opportunity to make a difference and give back. She urges anyone with an interest in helping children and teenagers to “find the time and make connections.”
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality
Children’s Aid and Family Services has an urgent need for mentors. To learn more, please contact Marcia Fisher at 201-261-2800 or visit www.cafsnj.org.