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Mentoring Inside Out Team

Center for Family Success

“Every day is about advocating for the youth, working with them to navigate the juvenile system, attending court, helping with school, talking to school counselors, managing homework, working through life stressors and setting and following through on goals” says Victor, an MIO Youth Mentor. On any given day, MIO Mentors Chioma, Victor, Kenny and Tasha meet with youth and families across Portland in court, school, community settings, at home, and at the Center for Family Success. “It’s a relationship with someone who you can trust, who’s not your mom or dad, not from school, not attached to DHS, and we take the time to build that rapport and that trust” says Chioma, Lead Youth Mentor.

MIO was created to support children and youth who were experiencing the incarceration of a parent or caregiver, offering one-on-one mentoring, support with visits, basic needs assistance, events, and other resources. Just last year, we launched MIO 2.0, a program offering similar supports for youth who are currently involved in the juvenile justice system in Multnomah County. “There’s a different level of guidance needed to help youth complete supervision,” says Chioma, “they’re kids dealing with really difficult adult issues, so the situation can be delicate.” Having mentors with lived experience can make all the difference for the youth we serve. “Everyone here has lived experience somehow, some way,” says Tasha, an MIO Youth Mentor,  “that’s what helps youth feel seen and safe, like they belong.”

Though their focus is with youth, MIO Mentors are also able to offer support to families and caregivers, and connect them with other TPN programs and services. “One of the best parts is when you know that you played a role in strengthening those family bonds,” says Victor, “when youth are able to identify the ripple effects of their actions on their family, friends, and community.” Chioma adds that parents will often ask for her advice about how best to support their children. “Parents will text me in the middle of the night to ask how to talk to their daughter,” she says, “it’s humbling to be part of building that relationship.” Tasha, who supports youth in the foster care system, works closely with families and their support teams: “we’re working as a team, connecting and all on the same page,” she says. The ongoing relationships and mentorship that MIO and MIO 2.0 offer youth and their families are foundational for helping youth successfully navigate systems and accomplish their goals. “We’re supporting the youth’s autonomy and walking alongside them as they build resilience by uplifting, inspiring, and motivating them,” says Vic, “We don’t give up on youth here.”