Before Dakota entered foster care his family situation was very dysfunctional. His Mom was in and out of jail and his grandmother was left to care for him. While in foster care he was not allowed back on his High school grounds which led to his being educated off site. He struggled with anger outbursts which resulted in property damage and police calls.
Some of the adults and institutions had written him off saying he wouldn't make it. Our team had developed a long term relationship with him and knew he could be successful and that his anger was due to being scared and a lack of family support. We encouraged Dakota to participate in the FRIENDS FIRST mentoring program. With the guidance of the mentors he found his voice and excelled in the program. The STARS Mentoring Program gave him the opportunity to identify his strengths, while examining his behaviors. Through the exercises and discussions he realized that he was competent and could manage as a normal teen.
Dakota was able to attend the STARS National Conference on campus in June of 2018 in Colorado. This was yet another turning point for him; experiencing the group dynamics, feeling part of something and realizing he had the ability to positively impact other youth, and the fact that we adults had chosen him to attend. Our team could see the difference in him as he went through the program; we watched his self-esteem and competency grow.
Dakota went on to graduate high school, he obtained his driver’s license; he obtained a job that he was good at, felt good about and was a star employee; he opened a bank account and saved money; and he was able to buy a car.
The skills and confidence he gained while in the STARS Mentoring Program helped propel him to enroll in the local tech college. He excelled in his classes and received a degree in the gas utility program. He now has a job in a high demand well-paying field. Although he is very busy Dakota is considering becoming a mentor for other youth in foster care.