Friends of the Children - King County Programs
We select children who have accumulated the most heartache and trouble.
No one else sees the potential of our children—but we do.
We start early.
We identify children at the end of kindergarten. At this age, we can intervene early and help our children realize their considerable potential.
We pair each child with a “Friend,” a full-time salaried mentor.
Each child receives four hours per week of mentor time, every week. Working with eight to ten children, the Friend is an advocate who both supports academic progress and cultivates the children’s talents and skills, in and out of school.
We stay for the long-term.
Our commitment to each child is unconditional. We are with them no matter what, for twelve years – until they graduate from high school, prepared for their future.
With the help of teachers, school counselors and principals, we identify children from Seattle’s underserved Central District, an area associated with poverty and gang violence. At the schools where recruits children, 73% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 58% do not live with both of their parents. From these troubled schools, we select the children with the greatest
developmental obstacles, who are most in need of a Friend
. We currently serve 91children, who attend 27 schools in 7 different districts, of which:
- 97% are children of color
- 85% come from low-income families
- 70% do not live with both of their parents
- 44% were born to a teen mother
- 42% have parents that are or have been incarcerated
- 39% have or currently live in foster or kinship care
To see Friends of the Children - King County in action, watch this four minute video
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In the eleventh year of our Seattle/King County program, we are celebrating our first graduating class! These are children who have had a mentor since first grade.
A recent economic analysis conducted by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon found that the societal benefits resulting from greater educational achievement and lower rates of incarceration and teen parenthood outweigh the costs of Friends of the Children by more than six to one.
Based on the most recent school data available (School report card data, 2010-11),
- 99% of Friends-KC children were promoted to the next grade;
- 88% of our students, in first through 11th grades, met grade level math standards;
- 98% of our elementary students met grade level reading standards;
- 75% of the children met school district standards for attendance; and
- 77% avoided suspension or expulsion.
The data we have available on Friends of the Children’s results are so promising that the National Institutes of Health partnered with our program and three other Friends programs (Boston, New York City, Portland) for a longitudinal randomized controlled trial study to find out more about how Friends of the Children impacts the lives of children. This trial is being independently conducted by scientists from the University of Washington, Princeton University, the University of Oregon, and the Oregon Social Learning Center.