State lawmakers are working to give Hoosier kids more tools and support to build successful futures. Whether in school or overcoming at-risk behaviors, a pair of legislative proposals would help improve outcomes for the next generation.

Apart from their teacher, some students may not have supportive adults providing sound guidance. Legislation would create a pilot mentorship program for older Hoosiers to work with students. This program would provide opportunities for some community members to volunteer their time while sharing their life experiences and skills with students. With these volunteers visiting our schools, they can help guide students facing difficulties or connect them with the right resources before issues boil over. Not only would this program enhance school safety, but it would also enrich students’ lives.

The juvenile system is not always equipped to handle all the needs of troubled young people. Juvenile offenders are more likely to have suffered abuse, and often face higher risks of mental health concerns, educational problems, occupational difficulties, and public health and safety issues. Another bill would establish a preventative program for at-risk youth to help address these issues early on, before they become life-long problems. The program would be voluntary and confidential, and is designed for those referred by school staff, police, court officials, other agencies and parents with concerns about a child.

These programs could offer much-needed support services like mentoring, mental health counseling and tutoring at no cost to families. To track these bills and others, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.