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Stories / Youth

​ For Chase, gaining independence was essential to his growth.

Professional mentor Spencer empowers Chase to make his own good choices.

When Chase* first met his professional mentor Spencer, he was 4 years old and enrolled in Childhaven. Before being placed in the foster care system, he faced trauma at home. This set Chase back socially and emotionally. For the first month, Spencer spent time with Chase at Childhaven to make the transition from Childhaven to Friends of the Children, and ultimately kindergarten, smoother.

The first thing Spencer noticed after spending time with Chase was that he was very “sweet, funny, and thoughtful.” Because of his great personality, it was fairly easy for Chase to connect with his peers. It was also obvious that Chase didn’t always enjoy sharing and listening to the directions his teachers at Childhaven would give him.

“[Chase] just threw tantrums in class when he didn’t want to share or clean,” said Spencer. “I knew this behavior would make things difficult for [Chase] in kindergarten.” Once Spencer was able to take Chase out of the Childhaven classrooms, he brought him to the Friends of the Children office. Here he interacted with children older than him who were used to routine. “Spencer was able to witness how helpful of an experience this was for Chase.”

“Little kids love to imitate what they see,” said Spencer. “[Chase] watched the older kids and immediately wanted to do what they did.” During their one-on-one time Spencer had an opportunity to connect with Chase on a deeper level and could explain the importance of sharing, problem-solving and self-management. He was able to put tangible examples in front of him to experience and help him learn.

Chase started kindergarten this past September and Spencer was by his side. Spencer spends two hours per week with Chase in his classroom to help him transition to the school routine and structure, as well as help Chase with his schoolwork. So far, school has been a positive experience for Chase. He is proud of the work he learns in school and shares his successes with Spencer.

Earlier intervention has helped Spencer better address Chase’s needs. Spencer knows all of Chase’s teachers. If Chase begins to develop habits and behaviors that will set him back in school and life, Chase has a community behind him and his caregiver to empower him to do better.

“[Chase’s] continued independence [and growth] is huge because it allows him to open up doors for more activities and skill building which will ultimately open more opportunities for him to be successful,” said Spencer.

*Name changed to protect youth's privacy