Children involved in the program will be among the most affected and involved in the child protection system and the justice system.
Missoula is the first community in the state to host the Friends of the Children program, which will largely partner with the children and families of Lowell Elementary in its infancy.
“It’s an impact on my school and beyond because we introduce the kids to the program and then we know it continues with them throughout high school,” Frank said. “What I like about this program is that it is aimed at two generations and that is also our approach: you cannot help a child if you do not help their family.
Through the program, trained and paid professional mentors are matched with children aged 4 to 6 and not only support them, but also their families. Groves is still in the process of hiring an executive director, as well as other support staff such as a program manager and an operations director. After that, they will move on to hiring “friends”, who are hired through a four-level interview process.
Once the whole team is assembled, she will start working with her first cohort of 16 students. For at least the first three years of the program, Friends of the Children plans to enroll a cohort of 16 children per year.
“If there is a community interest and if there is funding, multi-year, sustainable funding, to support growth, we can accelerate that growth,” said Groves.