By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With greater numbers of dysfunctional families and high poverty decreasing resources, a caring adult, a mentor, to encourage kids to stay in school and plan their futures is perhaps more important than ever.

Studies show that mentoring helps young people both emotionally and academically.

Philadelphia is the national headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Become a “big” and join this 100 year old program. It’s also the home of the Amachi program, started by former Mayor Wilson Goode, in which volunteers mentor children of incarcerated parents.

Philadelphia Futures’ mentors assist high school youth in preparing for college starting in 9th grade and Graduation Coaches, a Philadelphia initiative of Mayor Nutter’s office, trains adults to support middle and high schoolers graduate and go on to college.

January is National Mentoring Month, a time to remember the importance of guidance and the friendship kids need in growing up.