Bacon: Helping young Hoosiers make connections, succeed

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, April 5, 2019 2:37 pm

According to Youth Mentor, a worldwide program helping families in need, 1 in 3 children under the age of 18 lack adult role models, leaving them alone during impressionable times in life. I am supporting legislation to establish a mentorship pilot program that would connect students and senior citizens in local schools, as well as a pilot program to help Hoosier children who are at risk of becoming juvenile offenders.

The senior-youth mentorship program would provide opportunities for older community members to volunteer their time while sharing their life experiences and skills with students. Students would receive reliable guidance and develop life skills, while their mentors share their experience and help younger generations grow in their personal relationships and academic careers. If a student is facing difficulties, a mentor could provide students emotional support and connect them with the right resources.

The Indiana Department of Education can select three schools to participate in the pilot program, and these schools would receive a safety grant to assist with the costs of implementation and other related expenses. Retired military and law enforcement members have voiced their support of this mentorship program, and see it as a valuable experience for everyone who participates. Volunteers aged 55 and over would be eligible to work with students after passing a thorough background check and child protection index check.

Another bill I am supporting would establish a program to help children with extreme behavioral issues who are at-risk of entering the criminal justice system. This program would offer mentoring, mental health counseling and tutoring at no cost to families. Participation would be voluntary and confidential, and the program is designed for those referred by school staff, police, court officials, agencies and parents with concerns about a child.

Five counties could launch the program to serve as an intervention initiative for children not yet in the court system. Schools would work with the local government to determine the needs of young Hoosiers, identify any missing support systems and establish a plan.

Our young Hoosiers cannot stand alone, and these pilot programs could be extremely impactful on school-age kids. As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback on legislation as it moves through the process. Contact me with any input or questions at h75@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9643.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75,

which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

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