- What is the KIDS HOPE program?
KIDS HOPE USA gives church members an opportunity to model the love of Christ by building a relationship with a Bibich Elementary School in Dyer IN and Kenwood Elementary School in Hammond IN. This relationship affirms the child while helping him/her increase their reading, writing and possibly math skills. Mentors spend one hour per week with their student. A prayer partner is identified for each relationship.
- Who are these children?
One principal described the KHUSA children this way:
1. Quiet, lost souls
2. Kids who exhibit behavior problems
3. Kids who need help learning
We are generally asked to work with children whose emotional, social and /or academic needs can be met through a relationship with a caring adult. The teacher and/or principal select these children.
- Who can be a KIDS HOPE USA volunteer?
Any Faith Church regular attendee over the age of 16 who can read, loves the Lord, and has a heart for children is eligible to participate in the program as a relational volunteer. All volunteers will be “interviewed” by the Director, submit reference names, and must agree to have a criminal background check.
- How much time will I need to commit?
When it comes to your contact with a child, a few minutes will go a very long way. Indeed, teachers report significant changes in behavior and academic performance for some children after only two visits. All we ask is that you give one hour per week for a school year to your assigned child. Children who lack structure in their lives need to count on those special moments with you once each week. We will try to offer you flexibility as to when the hour occurs based on your schedule. Many of our mentors meet with their child around lunch hour. We also have trained substitute tutors who can meet your student if you have to miss a week.
- Does one hour really make a difference?
Yes. Teachers consistently report that the KIDS HOPE USA children show significant improvement in four areas: Attendance (the kids don’t want to miss their visit with the KHUSA friend); academic performance; attitude; and behavior (children stop fighting, for example, because they are loved and because they do not want to disappoint their friend).
- Will I receive training?
A 3 ½ hour training session is required for all Kids Hope Mentors. This thorough training will give you all the tools you need to be ready to start a dynamic relationship with a wonderful child. These trainings are scheduled as needed.
- What if I need help after I’m working with the child?
The KIDS HOPE USA Director, working cooperatively with the teacher, is ready and able to help you. They are part of your support system.
- What if the relationship just doesn’t work or I have to drop out of the program?
The Program Director will help the volunteer and the students resolve differences and, if necessary, accomplish a “no fault” separation. Special care will be taken to protect the participants from feelings of guilt and rejection.
- When and where will I spend my hour?
Your mentoring time will be scheduled at Bibich School during the school day. Liability issues make unsupervised meetings between an adult and child outside the church or school setting unwise.
- Will anything else be required of me?
Kids Hope mentors and children enjoy 2 “Hopefest” celebrations a year for an hour and a half after school, one in January, and one in May. These are wonderful opportunities to celebrate together and to invite parents to be involved, making a home-school connection. Mentors are also asked to participate in Mentor meetings 2-3 times a year.
- Who is in charge?
Our trained KIDS HOPE USA Program Director is Jennifer LeRose. She provides training, supervision and affirmation for the volunteers. The Director is assisted by members of our church who serve on a KIDS HOPE USA Leadership Team.
- What is KIDS HOPE USA?
KIDS HOPE USA was created in 1993 by International Aid to help local churches address the growing needs of America’s children. The relational model was adopted after extensive research with professionals in human services, health services, religion, education, government, business and volunteer services showed that children performing below grade level could make improvement if trained church volunteers would affirm them by developing a relationship and helping them learn to read. In 2002, the rapidly expanding KIDS HOPE USA national office became an independent organization and is located in Zeeland, MI.
- What is the goal of the program?
KIDS HOPE USA volunteers provide emotional support for children and can also help academically. When KIDS HOPE USA volunteers believe in the children, the children begin to believe in themselves. That’s when change occurs. A study at one school found that KIDS HOPE USA children had fewer detentions, were more attentive, exhibited greater concern for other students and demonstrated significant improvement in reading, spelling, math and test-taking.
- How do I get involved?
Facebook: Kids Hope USA
National website: www.kidshopeusa.org