MENTOR to Run New Voucher Component of Mentoring Children
of Prisoners Program
WASHINGTON, DC - The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the selection of the national mentoring organization MENTOR to operate the new voucher segment of the Mentoring Children of Prisoners (MCP) program at an event hosted by First Lady Laura Bush yesterday afternoon.
“I'm happy to announce that ACF will launch a new voucher program to help the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program reach even more families,” said Mrs. Bush. “With this new voucher program, vulnerable children across the United States can benefit from the support of caring adults.”
Mrs. Bush delivered remarks on the importance of mentoring and the new voucher program at Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School in New Orleans, La.
“Children of prisoners benefit from mentoring relationships,” acting Assistant Secretary Daniel Schneider said in Washington, DC. “This voucher program will give children living far from federally funded mentoring organizations a way to participate in these essential relationships close to home, connected to their communities.”
MENTOR, a mentoring organization in Alexandria, will be well positioned to quickly start up the voucher program. They will identify children in need of mentoring services residing outside of areas currently served by location-based MCP programs funded by ACF. They will also locate new organizations to provide mentoring services through the voucher program in communities throughout the United States so that families of children of prisoners can choose the group that best meets their needs.
Congress reauthorized the Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program in the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006. The Act incorporated the President’s proposal to allow the use of program vouchers to reach more children of incarcerated individuals by authorizing a Voucher Service Delivery Demonstration Project.
In the first year alone, the authorized $5 million will provide at least 3,000 vouchers for mentoring services for children of prisoners. In the second year, $10 million is authorized which would allow 8,000 vouchers to be provided. In the final year of the Project, $15 million is authorized which would provide at least 13,000 vouchers to families of children of prisoners.
“These vouchers will help families involve additional caring adults in the lives of these vulnerable children, in Louisiana and all over the country,” said Curtis Porter, acting associate commissioner of ACF’s Family and Youth Services Bureau in the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and ACF’s representative at Mrs. Bush’s event. “A mentor can change the life of a child forever.”
There are currently more than two million children with at least one parent in prison. Studies have shown that children with incarcerated parents are more likely than their peers to commit a crime. However, children in a mentoring relationship are less likely to engage in harmful behaviors such as drinking, using drugs or initiating violence, and more likely to have healthier relationships and better academic performance.