PEER Youth Mentoring

Audience: Morris and Passaic County youth

Through a federal grant awarded by the Office of Justice Programs, Prevention

Is Key will provide an innovative youth mentoring program.

The PEER (Pursuing and Engaging Empathic Relationships) Youth Mentoring is a free mentoring program for Morris and Passaic County youth (ages 11-17), who have been impacted by opioids, that is youth who:

  • Currently abuse or have abused opioids or other substances
  • Are at high risk for using opioids or other substances
  • Have family members who are currently abusing or have abused opioids or other substances
  • Are system involved youth and youth deferred from the juvenile justice system

The program will connect the identified youth to a support network of mentors. The mentors are comprised of PIK/CARES staff. The mentor-mentee match will be paired for up to one year with ongoing support and connection to PIK/CARES services and to the Program Coordinator.

What is mentoring?

The PEER Youth Mentoring Program offers a trusted and supportive adult to serve as a coach, friend, and advisor for your youth as they navigate the aftermath of an unprecedented and truly difficult year. A PEER Youth Mentor is someone who operates as a listening ear and ensures that your child knows that they are in the driver’s seat of any goal planning and decision making. Our youth mentors come to this field with lived experiences as it relates to the recovery world and will use their insights and experiences to inform their mentoring work.

How do I know if my child is a good fit for the program?

PEER works with youth (ages 11-17) from Morris or Passaic County that are at risk for opioid use. Risks for substance use disorder include past or current opioid or other substance use, past or current substance use among family members or friends, or have experienced or at risk for any adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including poverty and/or homelessness, divorce, and neglect. Other factors include gang involvement, delinquency or truancy issues, or that they are system involved/deferred from the criminal justice system. Additionally, the youth must be willing to engage in a yearlong mentoring relationship by attending weekly sessions. If you are unsure if your child is a good fit for the program, you can reach out to the program coordinator, Katy, to discuss more.

How do I get my child involved?

You can submit a referral form to the program coordinator, Katy, at kbednarsky@mcpik.org or email Katy directly inquiring about the program. After initial engagement, you will receive an application packet for you and your youth to complete together. After completion of the packet, your child will be interviewed by the program coordinator to gain a better understanding of their needs and feel for their personality. This will support in ensuring that an appropriate match is made with their Youth Mentor. Once accepted in the program, the parent/guardian and youth will attend an orientation and introduction session to meet their mentor and learn more about the expectations of the program.

What will you do in the PEER program?

The program will connect the identified youth to a support network of mentors. The program follows a group mentoring model, so youth will also be able to connect to and develop a network of peers. The mentees are matched up for one year, where they will meet weekly with their group and mentors to check in, be in community, as well as learn about coping skills, healthy communication, and ways to cultivate resiliency, as well as identifying pathways to recovery, creating a support network and learning about system navigation. Additionally, mentees and family will have the opportunity to attend family fun nights and activities that PIK will host.

What will you do in the PEER program?

Parents must give written consent for their child to participate in PEER. Families and caretakers of the mentee will be connected to evidence-based programs, including the Strengthening Families Program, the Community Reinforcement and Family Training, for holistic and community-oriented support while helping their mentee in this program. All families and parents are also invited to attend the family fun nights and activities that PIK will host.

For more information, please contact Katy Bednarsky at (973) 625-1998 or email kbednarsky@mcpik.org.