The Florida Association of Women Lawyers (FAWL) and the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) have launched a partnership in which attorneys will be mentors for young women aging out of foster care.
FAWL president Jennifer Shoaf Richardson says her members are excited about volunteering one hour monthly to mentor teen girls who are close to aging out of the child welfare system.
"I think many people – and especially foster youth – just need to be pointed in the right direction as far as the questions they need to ask and getting connected to the wonderful resources that already exist," Richardson says.
So the "FAWL in Love with GAL" pro bono mentoring project will kick off with a statewide series of training events, the first in Tallahassee on April 26th.
Studies show teens who age out of foster care without a family are four times more likely to enter the criminal justice system and 17 times more likely to be homeless at age 21. But those with mentors achieve higher educational, economic, and social outcomes.
What's more, people who succeed in life nearly always have mentors according to Thomasina Moore, Guardian ad Litem's Director of Pro Bono Initiatives. "We want to give these youth the same chance at success other people have had by providing a mentor for the nearly 1,000 teenage girls that are close to aging out of foster care without a permanent home," she says.
Guardian ad Litem will transport the teens to and from the lawyers' offices.