Kansas unveils new mentoring program for TANF recipients

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Governor Sam Brownback announced a new mentoring program Wednseday aimed at getting more Kansans off cash assistance.

It’s similar to a program for inmates, and state leaders hope initiative will help thousands of Kansans get back to work.

They call it HOPE Mentoring, “A mentoring program for people in poverty to help get them out of poverty,” said Gov. Sam Brownback.

It’s modeled on a corrections program known as “Mentoring4Success” and state leaders hope these relationships will help Kansans who get cash assistance find jobs and lead independent lives.

“They can offer guidance and advice that will help steer a lot of clients on a good path going forward,” said Jim Echols, HOPE Mentoring Program Director.

“We’ve seen a majority of TANF recipients that have moved from TANF into work, move out of poverty. So they’re not just off of the Welfare Programs, they’re out of poverty,” said Brownback.

The state’s goal is to match at least 11,000 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, recipients with mentors by the end of this year.

The first volunteer has already signed up, Kansas’ First Lady Mary Brownback.

“It’s a little bit like parenting or honestly being a friend and telling them, really I think you should do this, and this might be a good idea,” said Brownback.

The state worries finding more than a thousand other volunteers could be their biggest obstacle.

“I’m asking Kansans all across the state, as this program is rolled out, to sign up, to help out and to mentor somebody that’s in poverty to help them get out of poverty,” said Gov. Brownback.

Echols already volunteers with the Mentoring4Success program, “It’s something that I enjoy, and it’s gratifying to me to feel that I am contributing something to someone’s life that could make a difference going forward.”

Now he hope others will step forward to do the same through HOPE Mentoring.

The Department for Children and Families says the program will cost about $175,000 for the first year.

That money will come from federal funds, so no benefits should be impacted.


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