Monday, October 29, 2007

New York’s Children of Promise

Thanks to four grants from US Health and Human Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in NY State will provide mentoring services to an estimated 3800 children of prisoners over the next three years.

What do we know about children of prisoners?

Nearly two million children in the United States experience the detrimental economic, social, and emotional effects of having an incarcerated parent. There is no reliable count of the children of prisoners in New York State, but estimates range between 40,000 and 60,000 children.

These children may experience the trauma of multiple changes in caregivers and living arrangements. They often succumb to depression and drug usage, and statistics indicate that, without intervention, as many as 70% of these children will follow the footsteps of their parent(s) into the criminal justice system.

How can a mentor help?

A quality, enduring mentoring relationship with a caring adult can be a promising intervention for children of prisoners. Research indicates that mentoring can reduce mentee risk behaviors and the likelihood of the mentee's future involvement in the criminal justice system. That’s why, across the nation, children of prisoners are now known as ‘Children of Promise’.

The purpose of New York State’s ‘Children of Promise’ program is to create quality, lasting, one-on-one relationships that provide young people with caring role models for future success. In collaboration with networks of public and private entities, Big Brothers Big Sisters will match children, ages four to eighteen, with a screened and trained adult volunteer for a one-on-one (one adult matched with one youth) mentoring relationship.

Caring adult mentors interact with mentees on a regular and consistent basis to provide support, encouragement, and advice. They provide opportunities for mentees to gain new skills and interests and expand their experiences beyond their families, schools, and neighborhoods. Successful mentors do not try to take the role of parent or teacher, but act as a trusted friend, guide, and role model for mentees.

For more information about what you can do to help call 888-230-7701

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