December 21, 2023

Friends of the Children Opening an Eastern Idaho Location

Program pairs youth with paid, professional mentors for 12+ years


AUGUST 3, 2023 (POCATELLO, IDAHO)Friends of the Children, a national nonprofit that pairs children who face multiple systemic obstacles with a paid, professional mentor called a Friend for 12+ years, announced today that they are launching their first Friends of the Children location in Idaho. Hiring efforts for a regional executive director are also underway.

“Friends of the Children’s expansion to Idaho is part of a larger strategic initiative to reach more children and families in rural communities across the country,” said Angela Groves, chief expansion officer at Friends of the Children. “While one of the network's earliest locations launched in rural Oregon 23 years ago, Friends of the Children has recently prioritized growth in rural communities with the launch of chapters in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oregon and now Idaho.”

The new Eastern Idaho location will initially serve American Falls, while working to understand the needs of other neighboring communities, including Pocatello, Idaho Falls and other outlying rural and Tribal communities for expansion in the coming years. Each child selected will be paired with a Friend whose full-time job is to spend four hours a week one on one with youth at school, at home and in the community. These Friends will support youth—and by extension, their families—for 12+ years, building trusting relationships through a trauma-informed lens that provides critical social, emotional, and academic support.

Poverty, a lack of access to basic needs, child welfare system involvement, parental substance use and lack of access to mental health support all negatively affect a child’s long-term health outcomes. In Idaho, the number of children experiencing foster care is increasing. In addition, 13.4% of children have lived with someone with a serious mental health condition. This is the third-highest prevalence in the country and is significantly higher than the national average of 7.8%. Research shows that a consistent, supportive relationship with a caring adult is the single-most important factor in shaping a child’s future—and can mitigate childhood adversity and trauma.

“I’m honored to support Friends of the Children as it opens the much-anticipated Eastern Idaho chapter,” said Kathy Downes, a community champion. “Friends has positively impacted outcomes for children and their parents in locations across the country. We are excited to have this successful organization join the important work in our region to support children facing the greatest obstacles."

Key state and local stakeholders and community leaders working to improve child well-being have supported bringing the Friends of the Children model to Idaho. Those leaders have identified serving children and families who are experiencing systemic poverty and who are at the highest risk of neglect and abuse as the top priority for the new chapter.

“Friends of the Children – Eastern Idaho will no doubt be a trusted member of the support systems of youth and families, and the work they do is so important and needed in our region,” said Region 6 Field Program Manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Racheal Peace.

One million dollars in seed capital funding has been raised to launch the regional chapter. The diverse base of investments includes support from Echo Fund, Silver Family Foundation, Intermountain Health, Cambia Health Foundation, the American Falls School District, and other local supporters.

Friends of the Children was founded in Oregon by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell over 30 years ago. His challenging childhood experience was the inspiration for the unique mentoring model. In recent years, the organization has expanded to support caregivers through an innovative Two-Generation (2Gen) approach aimed at supporting families in achieving overall health and well-being.

Research funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that the presence of a Friend in a child’s life benefits the entire family. A third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children program graduates showed that:

· 92% of graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce

· 83% of youth obtain a high school diploma or GED

· 93% remain free from juvenile justice system involvement

· 98% wait to parent until after their teen years

Over the last 10 years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 34 locations across the United States. Friends of the Children – Eastern Idaho is actively hiring an executive director for the region, formalizing partnerships and building its board of directors. A return-on-investment study by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that every $1 invested in Friends of the Children returns more than $7 in benefit to the community. To learn more, email Friends of the Children Chief Expansion Officer Angela Groves.

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About Friends of the Children

Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who face the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Our successful model is now in 34 locations around the country. Our work has been featured in The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review and CBS News. Visit to learn more and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Ariane Le Chevallier