Tuesday, November 14, 2000

County to pay mentors for at-risk children

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A few troubled children throughout Hamilton County may soon have a new group of friends.

        County officials are about to create a mentoring program that would assign a paid mentor to a group of eight “at risk” children in the first grade.

        The idea, modeled after a program in Portland, Ore., is that the mentor will develop a relationship with each child and stay with them through elementary school.

        Teachers will help pick the children for the program, which is part of the county's Prevention, Retention and Contingency Plan. It will cost $500,000 to start and go up by that amount each of the next five years as more students get mentors.

        “We'll want those kids who are least likely to succeed in the program,” said Don Thomas, director of the county's Department of Human Services. “Teachers can absolutely spot those kids at an early age.”

        Portland now has children who have been in their program for seven years, and most are doing well in school, Mr. Thomas said.

        To be eligible, a family must:

        • Have a child younger than age 8.

        • Reside in Hamilton County.

        • Have a gross monthly income of no more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline.


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