Hhs Awards $9 Million For Mentoring Prisoners’ Children
Nearly $9 million in grants to 52 organizations to train adult volunteers as mentors to children whose parents are incarcerated has been released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Between 1991 and 1999, the number of children with a parent in a federal or state correctional facility increased by more than 100 percent, from about 900,000 to about 2,000,000.
Fewer than 50 percent of prisoners receive regular visits from their children, either because the children’s caregiver chooses not to visit or because the distance is prohibitive.
Studies show that children with incarcerated parents have a seven times greater chance than the general population to become incarcerated themselves.
The grantee organizations will receive referrals from parents, caretakers, schools, courts, social services agencies or religious organizations. They will train and match mentors with children from age four to 15. They will also screen all potential mentors for child and domestic abuse and other criminal history.
Mentors will be required to make at least a one-year commitment and to meet at least once weekly with the child. They will also be encouraged to form a relationship with the whole family in order to ease the transition when the incarcerated parent is released. The grantees will monitor and assist the mentors on an ongoing basis.