Thanks to the generosity of SCHEELS and the Echo Fund, Friends of the Children – Colorado Springs (Friends–Colorado Springs) is launching in the fall of 2021! Our vision is that one day, every child in El Paso County who is in - or at risk of entering - foster care will have a Friend: a paid, professional mentor who stays with them from kindergarten through high school graduation, 12+ years – no matter what. Friends–Colorado Springs will partner with the El Paso County Department of Human Services and local nonprofits to invite youth and families to join our program. Each child selected will be paired with a Friend whose full-time job will be to spend four hours a week with each child. Friends will support youth—and by extension their families—for 12+ years, building trusting relationships through a trauma-informed lens that provides critical social, emotional and academic support.
Each child enrolled in the Friends–Colorado Springs program will be paired with a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. For 12+ years, from ages 4 to 6 to high school graduation, Friends work with their youth in schools, at home, and in the community for 3 to 4 hours each week to build skills like problem-solving, perseverance, and self-management. These skills empower youth to pursue and achieve their goals in school and in life. Simultaneously, leveraging our two-generation approach, Friends will empower parents and caregivers to build their own skills as parents, advocate for themselves and their children, and increase connectedness to community resources that improve family stability.
Friends of the Children has named Colorado Springs community leader Judy Cara as the executive director. “Every child in Colorado Springs deserves the opportunity to dream big and reach their goals, but too many children face a lot of adversity that can seem impossible to overcome,” said Cara. “Joining Friends of the Children is a great honor and a tremendous opportunity to uplift and support Colorado Springs children. Now, more than ever, it’s important to introduce new resources to communities as families continue to persevere during these particularly tough times.”
After leaving a position with the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in her native England, Cara lived in Nebraska for seven years before arriving in the Colorado Springs area. Since then, Cara has been engaged with numerous nonprofit organizations. Those affiliations include board positions with the YMCA, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts of Colorado, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Children’s Museum and more.