DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004CONTINUED
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Hawaii, Senator AKAKA, for his work on this important issue. I, too, strongly believe that mentoring is effective. Unfortunately, the need for mentors is so much greater than what is currently available. MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership estimates, based on the latest US Census figures and risk factors for youth, that approximately 17.6 million young people could benefit greatly from a high-quality formal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. Of those young people who need mentors, an estimated 2.5 million are fortunate to be in formal, high-quality mentoring relationships. But that leaves more than 1.5 million young people in need of mentors, falling into a "mentoring gap."
The President has requested $100 million for Mentoring Programs grants and $50 million for Mentoring for Children of Prisoners as a strategic first step to closing that mentoring gap, and I want to recognize him for his leadership. Through a concentrated effort, we will be able to match thousands of new children with caring adults. But, that cannot happen unless we are able to increase the funding for mentoring in this appropriations bill.
Given the tight budget times we are facing, I appreciate the increase that the committee was able to provide for mentoring.
However, I believe that we can do better in conference. I, too, would like to work with the chairman with the goal of matching or exceeding the House figure of $75 million, even though it is still short of the President's request of $150 million. I would like to conclude my remarks at this time and yield to a fellow former governor, the Senator from Nebraska, BEN NELSON