Thanks to the generosity of the Echo Fund, SCHEELS, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, the Underriner Family, and other individual donors, Friends of the Children – Eastern Montana (Friends- Eastern Montana) launched in the fall of 2022! In partnership with our Western Montana location, our vision is that one day, every child in Montana 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-Eastern Montana will initially begin selecting children in the Billings area, in partnership with local community partners and the education system. 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 – Eastern Montana 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.