Raise The Future Makes Connections For Youth Living In Foster Care

CBS4's Day 4 Wednesday's Child raises money and awareness for Raise the Future.

Video Transcript

KELLY WERTHMANN: CBS 4's day for Wednesday's Child is coming up on April 14. It's the day we raise money and awareness about children living in foster care. Joining us now is Katrina George with Raise the Future.

So Katrina, we're grateful to have you here. Tell us why it's so important, perhaps more than ever, to make connections for kids living in foster care.

KATRINA GEORGE: Yeah, at Raise the Future, we believe that you need people, not just programs. And this past year has been pretty exceptionally difficult on our communities. And so the youth in our program have lost connections that maybe they had prior. And so we as a program choice are about connecting these youth in foster care with mentors who can provide stability in their lives.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Tell us a little bit more, Katrina, what those connections look like. I imagine it doesn't always have to be adoption, right?

KATRINA GEORGE: That's true. So while we are proud to say that we've had a handful of adoptions through our program, meaning that the mentors have adopted the youth that they were mentoring, it doesn't have to just be about legal permanency.

We focus on permanency as a whole for the youth, and so that can be relational permanency. For us, relational permanency means that you're showing up, that you're stable, that you can be maybe a lifetime connection and support for a youth.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Connections are so important and you-- and you kind of hinted to that, especially right now, you know, during the pandemic where we're not getting as much, you know, in-person connection. So why would you say that this is so important for-- for children?

KATRINA GEORGE: Yeah, I think that we as humans all need-- need somebody in our corners. So imagine being 18, if you're on your own, your car breaks down, you're applying for a job, you don't have anywhere to go for the holidays, who do you call? Our hopes is that their choice and our CHOICE mentors, that that is who the youth call when they need somebody.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Absolutely. So you head up the CHOICE program. What does that mentorship program really look like?

KATRINA GEORGE: So we are, like you said, a mentoring program for older youth in foster care, meaning youth ages 12 to 18+. And we work on connecting them with mentors of their choice, which is the great part. They get to have a say in who their mentor is going to be. Our mentoring program also looks a little different than other mentoring programs that exist.

So we really strive to create a family relationship in an environment for our youth. So our mentors are actually not just seeing the youth in the community, but they're having those youth over to their homes, they're doing overnights, they're introducing that youth to their family, their friends.

And we're just aiming to-- to create more relationships and more support for these youth. An example of that I have is, we have a youth who's been in our program and been connected with his mentors for 3 and 1/2 years. And they show up for him when a lot of people haven't.

And they went to his high school graduation, they helped him find housing, they helped him just focus on a future that he wants-- he wanted. And that's ultimately all we can ask for our mentors and for these youth to have.

KELLY WERTHMANN: It's important and very impactful work. So what can people do, Katrina, to support Raise the Future on the day for Wednesday's Child?

KATRINA GEORGE: I think it'd be great if people would just go to our website, check out the services that we offer and we-- the youth that we're supporting, and also the families who are providing support and caring for those youth. And if a monetary option is there for you, that's great. But we also just appreciate people in the community caring about what we do and spreading word.

KELLY WERTHMANN: Absolutely. We need a lot of positivity and a lot more connection these days, absolutely. Well, Katrina, thank you so much for your time.

We look forward to a day for Wednesday's Child every year. So if you would like more information about it, just go to our website, CBSDenver.com.