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September 28, 2015

Mentoring Works Washington's Expert Partner

Friends of the Children Recognized as Top Mentoring Program by Statewide Organization

Mentoring Works Washington just named Friends of the Children an Expert Partner. Friends of the Children identifies youth facing the toughest challenges and connects them with professional mentors who guide them to develop their greatest potential and achieve their goals. From kindergarten through high school graduation, no matter what. Friends of the Children achieved Expert level through a rigorous, guided evaluation process that is based on over 20 years of national research and experienced practitioner insight and includes ongoing assistance from Mentoring Works Washington to develop and implement a 12-month Improvement & Innovation Plan. Advanced research shows that quality mentoring practices are a determining factor in achieving positive youth outcomes.

“We are very proud of this recognition because it brings accreditation to our organization,” Executive Director Kelly Reid said. “It really allows us to hone in on the things we are doing well, and work harder on others.”

This designation means that Friends of the Children is committed to following quality best practices that help ensure the community’s youth and volunteers are safe and that they experience mentoring relationships that result in positive outcomes such as increased self-esteem, academic success, and decreased chances of exhibiting risky behavior.

“Our professional mentors work hard every day to make sure the youth in our program graduate high school with a plan for postsecondary education, avoid teen parenthood, and avoid the juvenile justice system,” the executive director said.

To achieve Expert status, Friends of the Children completed the Quality Mentoring Assessment Path, or QMAP, and follows 100 percent of its outlined best practices. Out of around 200 mentoring programs in Washington, only six have become Dedicated Partners and three have become an Expert Partner in the first two years of the statewide program.

The QMAP is a process with three different sections including management, operations and evaluation. Each mentoring organization is assessed and rated on the same scale to determine if one of the 99 items are in practice and the quality of implementation. Sometimes the mentoring organization is asked to provide documentation about the organization or the mentor recruitment plan.

In rigorous studies, mentoring conducted in high quality programs reduced juvenile delinquency and crime; improved school attendance, grades and high school graduation rates; improved mental health; and lowered risk of youth involvement in such risky behaviors as drugs, and alcohol and tobacco use.

“No other organization does the work we do,” Program Director, Edgar Masmela said. ”Not only is getting expert status validating, but it give us the push we need to get our kids through to the finish line.”

Mentoring Works Washington has been implementing this intensive process with youth mentoring programs in all corners of Washington. The programs must, however, be formal youth mentoring programs. There are currently 23 programs enrolled in QMAP with a goal of at least 60 programs by 2018.

“It is an honor to one of the first organizations to get this recognition and to have the opportunity to be the benchmark for other organizations,” the program director said.