WANTED: Motivators! Caring individuals who are willing to take time to help others be all they can be. 

Skills needed: A desire to see other succeed and the ability to inspire and encourage others. Must be willing to provide support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and serve as a constructive example.

If you think you have what it takes to be a motivator, the State of Kansas has the opportunity for you. 

The HOPE Mentoring Program, a one-on-one mentoring program, is looking to engage volunteer motivators to work with clients in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The volunteers will use their “motivating skills” to help an assigned TANF client successfully move through the program and onto a path of self-reliance and personal and professional success. 

TANF is a program that provides cash assistance and supportive services to assist families with children under age 18. Effective in January 2016, the lifetime eligibility for TANF clients was reduced from 48 to 36 months. It was this change that encouraged Jim Echols, director of the HOPE Mentoring Program, to develop this program to give TANF clients that extra boost. 

The program, launched in January, is partnered after the state’s successful Mentoring 4 Success Program. That program, in place since 2011, matches volunteer mentors with prisoners transitioning out of the system as a way to help smooth the prisoner’s transition back into society and decrease recidivism.

Mentoring 4Success has been so successful, approximately a dozen other states have sent staff to Kansas in an effort to learn about and duplicate the program. Echols, who has successfully mentored three prisoners in five yeras, says he saw the potential for applying the same principals to clients transitioning off state assistance. 

“I took the best practices from that program and refined it slightly,” says Echols. However, Echols sees one shortcoming of Mentoring 4 Success already beginning to manifest in Hope Mentoring. “Our weakness is recruiting minority mentors, especially African Americans,” Echols says. 

Since African Americans are a disproportionate share of the state’s TANF clients, Echols says he hopes to have a robust level of participation of African-American mentors. To reach that objective, he’s actively spreading the word about the program and recruiting mentors in African-American communities across the state. 

The program’s goal is to recruit at least 1,100 mentors, one for each of the clients who will transition out of the TANF Program during the next 12-months. The program is organized under four regional coordinators, assigned based on the Department of Children and Families regions. The Kansas City region needs 325 mentors, Topeka needs 225, the Western region needs 125, and Wichita needs 425 mentors.

Mentors are required to meet one-on-one with their mentees for a minimum of one hour, once per month. They’re also asked to commit one-year to working with their mentee. Like every government job, there’s paperwork. Mentors are required to submit a monthly report to the regional coordinators. 

The application is available online. Along with the application, mentors are asked to submit a copy of their driver’s license and two letters of reference. An interview with the regional coordinator, a security clearance and a 4-hour mentoring training program is also required. 

To learn more about the program or to volunteer: call 1-913-279-7399, email HopeMentoring@dcf.ks.gov or go online to: http://www.dcf.ks.gov/Agency/FBCI/Pages/HOPE-Mentoring.aspx.

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