BEST Kids is based in Washington, D.C., where there are nearly 2,500 children in the foster care system from ages 6 to 21. While they currently have about 78 matches, eight children still need a mentor.
BEST Kids was the first pilot program in D.C. providing volunteer mentors to children in the foster care system. Children are allowed to continue their mentoring until they are 21 years old and “age out” from the foster care system. In the D.C. foster system, 70 to 80 percent of children are Black or African American. This demographic group also makes up the majority of the population in the BEST Kids program. Black youth and children of color are disproportionately represented in the foster care system due to a variety of socioeconomical issues such as higher rates of poverty and lower rates of adoption. In 2020, nearly 30,000 children who were adopted nation-wide were white, while approximately 10,000 were Black or African American.
With individualized attention, long-lasting relationships, and a holistic approach, BEST Kids provides a stable environment for youth who experience constant transitions in life. BEST Kids uses a one-on-one mentoring approach to create a larger family for children and adolescents. Volunteer mentors undergo extensive background checks, complete a comprehensive training program, are consistently monitored, and are provided with ongoing support. BEST Kids is always looking for training to keep their mentors engaged, active, and knowledgeable. By providing considerable training opportunities to mentors, they establish a basis for more success in matches.
As Carl C. Scott, Program Manager for BEST Kids, states — the youth and adolescents in their program have not been afforded choices in their lives. The mentoring program allows youth to choose their mentor, giving them control, connection, and consistency.