“Kinship will be funded one way or another, so there are no worries about that losing funding,” said Polk County Board Chair Chris Nelson before a presentation from the Kinship Program coordinators about the importance of the program in the county. Nelson said, “Our County Board is completely behind it, we just have to figure out a way to do it.”

According to Polk County Kinship’s webpage, “Kinship is a non-profit mentoring agency for children ages 5-18 and has been in existence and changing lives since 1980. Kinship kids are young people who would benefit from the extra support, encouragement, and companionship a properly matched and consistent friendship can provide. Kinship mentors are people who are willing and able to invest in such a friendship with a child or young person in need. Kinship mentors may be in many walks of life: they can be married, single, male, female, young, or older adults.”

As a mentoring agency for children, Kinship of Polk County offers two mentoring options: traditional community-based mentoring and school mentoring.

Lisa Thanig, Executive Director of Polk County Kinship, along with Amy Danielson, Service Coordinator and Program Manager/Service Coordinator Karalee Tollakson, spoke with the Polk County Board of Supervisors about the program.

Thanig said Kinship had been funded by the county since its conception over 40 years ago and was the largest Kinship program in the state of Wisconsin with over 350 volunteers.

“Our volunteers are carefully screened, trained and matched with a child based on common interests, personalities and geographic proximity and on the preferences on families, youth and mentors,” said Thanig. 

She said mentors are asked to commit to three to four meetings per month, throughout the year, for a minimum of one year. “Of course, our hope is that this relationship continues until the youth reach the age of eighteen; the Kinship relationship,” Thanig said.

School mentoring takes place once a week for thirty minutes after teachers and guidance counselors have provided referrals.

After the presentation Nelson said there were some glitches in the way the program had been funded but the County Board never said they were going to defund Kinship. He said, “We are going to work logistics out and make sure this funding continues.”

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