Thursday, September 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Early mentoring helps youth succeed

At-risk children need innovative solutions to propel them toward success. Eckerd Community Alternatives has launched a program to engage children in the foster care system with paid mentors who will partner with them from grade school to graduation. The program's laudable goal is to make a long-term investment in the bay area's neediest youth and steer them away from teenage pregnancy, the criminal justice system and dropping out of high school. The entire community should support this early intervention effort and help the program succeed.

Friends of the Children is a national mentoring program founded in 1993 in Portland, Ore. The program focuses on children ages 5 and 6 in foster care with a variety of risk factors, including being born to teenage parents, suffering from generational abuse and having parents who have been incarcerated. Program organizers screen out children who have behavioral or mental health issues or who already have strong familial support systems. In Portland, more than 200 students have finished the program, which starts at age 5 and ends at 18. Some 98 percent of the Portland program's graduates avoided becoming teen parents. Another 97 percent steered clear of criminal involvement, and 83 percent received a high school diploma or passed the GED test. Half went on to pursue postsecondary education.

Eckerd, which is the Department of Children and Families' lead agency in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, has hired eight mentors who each will be assigned to eight children. The volunteer program calls for the mentors to interact with the students, who are in kindergarten or first grade, for two hours each week at their schools and two hours outside the classroom. The first year of a student's participation in the program will be funded by the state. Eckerd will shoulder the reminder of the costs, which it estimates will reach $800,000 by the program's third year and eventually $1.5 million a year.

Eckerd's new mentoring program rightly aims to help provide the neediest children with consistent, personalized attention. It also is notable that Eckerd is targeting children that other programs might deem too difficult to engage. "We only want the kid that has been written off,'' Lorita Shirley, Eckerd's chief of program services for Florida, said in a recent interview. "We're saying give us that kid, and give us a shot at changing that child's future."

Based on Friends of the Children's age restrictions, 600 bay area children qualified for the program. But funding constraints allow only 64 children to participate this year. This is where businesses and community members can step in. Eckerd welcomes monetary donations to help pay for additional mentors or in-kind gifts, such as haircuts.

More children should have access to a consistent, affirming adult presence in their lives. Friends of the Children appears to be a promising effort to make a long-term impact for at-risk youth. Breaking the cycle of generational poverty and the societal ills it often spawns is in everyone's best interest.

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Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18