C.A.R.E: A Natural Mentoring Intervention for Older Youth in Foster Care
Johanna K. P. Greeson is a professional who has long been on the leading edge of child welfare and advocacy, especially for older youth in foster care. The July/August 2014 issue of Social Work Today featured her work on natural mentoring in its cover story, in which Greeson and her coauthors described C.A.R.E. (Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere), a child welfare–based intervention designed to support the development of growth-fostering relationships between youths preparing to exit foster care and their self-selected natural mentors.
I chose the article as the cover story, so I need no persuading that C.A.R.E: A Natural Mentoring Intervention for Older Youth in Foster Care, a workbook on the C.A.R.E. intervention, is a worthwhile resource. Therefore, I will approach this review a bit differently—not as a social worker, a social work educator, or even as an editor, but as a mentor.
I began mentoring K. in the past few years, and, while she had not been in foster care, she is young and has experienced many of the challenges that youth aging out of foster care do.
She had been part of a traumatic family situation with one parent who has a debilitating substance use disorder and lived with her four-person family in a car, then lived outdoors in tent when that situation was no longer tenable.
I met K. through the transitional housing organization where she lived after her experience with homelessness, and I have continued as her mentor since she left that organization and found semipermanent housing.
I can assure potential mentor training programs that this workbook, with its realisitic activities modules and a thorough orientation to the challenges faced by young people who are aging out, is a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, trauma-informed blueprint to mentoring older youth, created through a strengths-based social work lens of meeting individuals where they are. For me, it reinforced what I continue to do right as well as what I need to improve. I recommend it to the transitional housing organization where I met K. and other programs whose goal is to foster resilience in older foster care youth—or any vulnerable youths needing caring attachments—as well as anyone considering youth mentoring.
— Marianne Mallon, editor