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Mentor programs merge to help Santa Barbara County kids

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The 'Big Brothers' and 'Big Sisters' program merged with the mentoring program operated by The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA) in July.

The Family Service Agency (FSA) started the process of closing its Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs and transitioning to CADA when the two organizations started collaborating in April. Both groups wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible for the youth, their parents and their mentors.

CADA’s Mentor Program is a school-based program for vulnerable 3rd- to 8th-grade students in the Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta School Districts who need academic, emotional, and/or social support. Students are matched with trained, volunteer adult mentors and meet weekly. They are referred by their teacher or counselor for any variety of factors that cause them to be at-risk for future negative behaviors.

“CADA is committed to building a safer, healthier community, and mentoring our local youth is foundational to that mission,” said Dr. Scott Whiteley, CADA Executive Director. “Our mentors provide the connection, support, guidance and friendship that help young people build the self-confidence, resiliency and critical thinking skills so important to their positive development. We are pleased to welcome these mentors and their mentees to our program and look forward to continuing the positive trajectory begun at FSA.” 

CADA and FSA have spent years trying to help youth in our community through positive role models. FSA's programs offered one-to-one mentoring for children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old who were facing adversity. 

“Mentoring changes children’s lives, and so we are extremely pleased that these important relationships can continue to be supported through the highly successful program at CADA,” said FSA’s Executive Director Lisa Brabo. “We are grateful for the opportunity to have served the children of Santa Barbara County and for the support of the organization's staff, volunteers who served as caring mentors, and members of the advisory council who served the program over the years.”

Youth who participate in programs like these have a much better chance of staying away from drugs and graduating from high school.

Community / Education / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County

C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter.