By creating a consistent and nurturing environment, we empower youth in foster care to transform their future through music mentorship.
Kids in a New Groove provides Texas youth in foster care with a committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through weekly private music instruction, giving students the ability to build concrete strategies for life-long success.
Karyn Scott founded Kids in New Digs in 2004, a nonprofit that intended to provide donated clothing to kids in the foster care system – having worked as a federal prosecutor in Travis County, she was familiar with the Youth in Foster Care. After realizing that donated clothing would not make a lasting difference in each child's life, the organization changed its name and mission in 2009 to reflect its ambitions: to enrich and enhance the lives of foster kids and to help them "age out" of the program with at least one solid adult relationship, a set of learned skills, and a sense of self-worth. The mission of the organization is to provide youth in foster care in Central Texas with a committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through weekly private music instruction, giving students the ability to build concrete strategies for life-long success.
Why Our Program Works
Kids In a New Groove’s “Mentoring through Music” program is not only qualified to address this need, but is the only organization in Texas that addresses this need specifically and exclusively for the population of youth in Foster Care. Though there are several programs aimed at reaching disadvantaged youth with music instruction, but they do not reach most youth in foster care as they are largely limited to school band or orchestra programs, or after-school programs. Because youth in foster care are frequently moved between homes and placements, they can’t participate in programs that require continuity that they don’t have access to. Having taken into account the frequency at which these children are moved from home to home, lack of reliable transportation and the overwhelmingly positive impact of mentorship and artistic opportunities, our music Mentors travel to the students’ homes and continue to teach them through their various placements. This flexibility and accessibility allows for these children to have a consistent positive relationship, one of the few they are able to cultivate. This mentorship relationship gives the support and accountability that allows for our students to not only affect positive changes in their life in terms of music but also learn that they can break out of the pattern that follows youth in Foster Care.
The Need we are Addressing
Youth in the foster care system live a life fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. For children to be removed from their biological or adoptive parents and placed into the foster care system means that they have already suffered extreme trauma; whether that be neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 415,129 displaced children were living in foster care in 2015. Of those children, 31,197 of them were in Texas and 3,568 of them were in Austin and surrounding areas.
The average foster child in Texas is in foster care for 4.8 years and can even change homes an average of 6 times before turning 21 and aging out of the system. These children lack the support and love of a parent and this void often leads to a plethora of behavioral problems: upon aging out there is a 42% chance that they will be convicted of a crime, a 29% chance that they will be unable to pay rent, a 23% chance that they will become a teen parent, and only half will graduate high school by age 18. Our Mentor through Music program seeks to provide these disadvantaged children with the stability and support that could protect them from joining these grim statistics. The relationship our students have with a trusted music mentor allows for these children to have a stable relationship that positively impacts their lives over the long term.
Why Music Mentorship
In a systematic review of mentoring programs done in 2011, David DuBois and Jean Rhodes found that mentoring programs have a positive impact “not only on outcomes that tend to be seen as “soft” or subjective such as attitudes and confidence but also those that typically are regarded as “harder” and more objective such as behavior and academic performance” (Dubois et al., 2011). Furthermore, the research on the effects that music can have on young minds shows many positive associations. In a study published in 2010, researchers found a “positive impact of musical engagement on reading skill,” (Hallam). Dr. Whitwell from the University of Pennsylvania argued that creative participation in music improves self-image and self-awareness, and creates positive self-attitudes. The degree of impact of our program on each student is measured through monthly progress reports that are submitted online by their Mentors. These reports help us track musical progress as well as numerous other metrics, such as job placement and academic growth. We hope to see increased impact in all these measured areas (such as the 100% graduation rate our students had last year), as well as see measurable improvement in students’ overall sense of autonomy and confidence. The consistency and stability our program provides as well as the accountability between the student and their Mentor create a trend of achievement and confidence that affects all aspects of the lives of our students.