Local program pairs mentors with kids in D.C.'s child welfare system

(WJLA) - At least once a week, Larissa Bryant meets with 15-year-old Breonna Chase. Breonna is a mentor with “Best Kids,” a mentoring program for kids in D.C.’s child welfare system.

The duo has been paired up for two-and-a-half years, and at the time they got together, Breonna was in a foster home struggling with school and in need of a caring and dependable adult in her life.

So Larissa helps Breonna with her homework, they go to movies, museums, and they go out to eat; they have even run in some 5K races. But it’s more than that.

"I look forward to seeing her everyday and just spending time with her and just basically being able to share our lives together and being able to have a positive influence on her," says Larissa.

"She's like a person I can trust, I can talk to," adds Breonna.

Todd Leibbrand started “Best Kids” in 2001 after volunteering as a D.C. court-appointed special advocate for many years and seeing the positive impact of that experience.

"The child I was working with was 11 years old and couldn't read a three-letter word, and I learned how if you're consistent and caring over a number of years, good things could happen," he says.

That is certainly true for Breonna, who will be starting high school in the fall. She now wants to go to college and study forensic science – and Bryant will be right there beside her to support her and cheer her on.

"We'll definitely keep in contact, and be great buddies forever, hopefully."

And in the end, that’s the goal of “Best Kids.

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