No Child Left Alone: Volunteers Mentor Children of Inmates
On March 25, 2012, the Christian Science Monitor discussed the need for mentors to children with incarcerated parents, as well as the difficulty of supplying these mentors with cuts in federal funding. There are now 2.7 million children in the United States with a parent in prison. That equates to 1 out of every 28 kids. Each of these kids are struggling with the normal challenges of growing up, often in poverty or unstable households. Add into the mix a missing parent and its easy to see that the odds are against them. Many are angry, rightly so, and its easy for them to wonder if they themselves are to blame for their situation.
Between 2003 and 2011, Mentoring Children of Prisoners, a federal initiative, steering money into a variety of agencies, including Volunteers of America Mentoring Children of Promise, that facilitate mentoring programs. Mentors commit to form and maintain a relationship with their mentee for at least a year. They meet a couple times a month to help with homework, go on outings, and eat meals together. The mentees are provided with a responsible adult role model whom they can trust. Often just having that extra person in their life to provide a good example and listen to their problems makes a world of differnce. Many children do better in school, not just grade wise, but behaviorally as well.
Mentoring programs used the funding to recruit, screen, train, and match mentors with children of incarcerated parents. Fortunately, children who have already been matched with their mentor will experience little change. However, since funding was been cut in 2011, it has become harder to recruit new volunteers and match them in a timely fashion. The need is especially great in New Orleans, where 5,000 children have parents in prison. Mentoring Children of Promise continues to match mentors with children but their are many still on the waiting list.
Mentor Brenda Williams, a volunteer of Volunteers of America Mentoring Children of Promise, has been mentoring Kayla since 2009. Kayla's two younger sisters also participate in the program. View the video to hear about her experiences.
Read the entire article in the Christian Science Monitor
and view pictures
of mentors and mentees.
To become a mentor call (504) 836-8700 or apply online.
Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans is a non-profit human service organization that helps people in need throughout 16 parishes in southeast Louisiana. You can help by donating your vehicle, stocks and mutual funds, life insurance, or making a bequest in your will or planned gift. Volunteering your time is also an invaluable way to contribute. Sign up today to learn more about our programs and services.