A national program that aims to improve outcomes for children living in poverty or in foster care has opened a branch in Tacoma. The organization is called Friends of the Children. It assigns paid mentors to young children between the ages of 4 and 6, and maintains that connection for about 12 years.
The need in the South Puget Sound region is evident. The percentage of children placed in foster care is about twice as high in Pierce County as in King County. Friends of the Children already operates in Seattle and Southwest Washington.
“The goal is to ensure that they have one significant adult in their life that is giving them consistency to help make sure they’re achieving and making gains,” said Melvin “JR” Nobles, Jr., executive director of Friends of the Children – Tacoma.
Nobles said the program also will work with the children’s parents to help them achieve stability. He said the ultimate goal is to help children succeed in school and avoid the juvenile justice system. He said in the coming year, the Tacoma site plans to work with two dozen children.