Mentors needed to guide children in Central Florida foster care system

Christie Hyde DeNave and her mentee, Phrankie, during a kayaking trip, along with Christie’s husband, Joe.

On any given day in Central Florida, there are close to 2,000 children in licensed foster care, and they are all looking for positive role models to influence their lives.

Embrace Families, the nonprofit agency overseeing foster care, adoption and child welfare services in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, is looking for approximately 100 mentors who are willing to give their time and attention to a young person in need.

 Mentoring is one of the easiest ways to make a real difference in the life of a child in foster care, according to an Embrace Families press release.

 Research shows that children with a mentor are 55 percent more likely to go to college, 52 percent less likely to skip school and 46 percent less likely to use drugs, compared to youth without a mentor.

“By mentoring, you’re changing an adolescent’s life just by being there,” said Christie Hyde DeNave, a mentor with Embrace Families. “I usually find myself in a teaching moment whenever I’m with my mentee, Phrankie, whether planned or not.”

 DeNave explained that mentoring can be as simple as sending a text to see how your mentee is doing, or hosting a pizza and movie night at home.

 “What matters most is showing this young adult that you care and are someone they can trust and confide in,” she said.

 There are four requirements to become a mentor through Embrace Families. Mentors must: be 25 years old; have transportation; pass a background check; and have the willingness to give their time and attention to a young person in need.

Young people are more likely to confide in someone sharing the same cultural background. Embrace Families works to strategically match mentors and mentees based on a questionnaire to find the best fit. There is currently a great need for male mentors, specifically from the African-American community.

Embrace Families hosts an orientation for mentors before they are matched to a child in foster care.  

To learn more about the Embrace Families mentor program or to fill out an application, visit www.embracefamiliesfl.org or call 321-441-2060.

 Danielle Abbey is the communications manager at Embrace Families.