Big Brothers Big Sisters is a local nonprofit agency that provides children with professionally supported adult mentors.
Similar to the community and school-based mentoring programs already in place, the MCP program aims to create quality and lasting relationships for young people with caring adult role models. However, this program is unique in that the children targeted have been affected by the incarceration of a loved one. For example, many of the youth will have a father or mother serving time in a state or federal prison.
Statistics from the Georgia Department of Corrections and Federal Bureau of Prisons indicate that an estimated 77,000 children in this state have a parent in prison. Research data indicates that children whose parents are or have been incarcerated have a 70 percent chance of following their parents’ footsteps.
Nick Deslattes, the MCP program manager, said relationships under the program provide opportunities for children to gain new skills and interests.
“It expands the children’s experiences beyond their families, schools, neighborhoods, and allows them to explore career paths and opportunities not otherwise made readily available to them,” Deslattes said.
Eligible youth, ages 4 to 18, are matched with screened and trained adult volunteers committed to meeting each young person on a regular and consistent basis for 12 months or longer.
A quality, enduring mentoring relationship can be beneficial for children of prisoners. Research indicates that mentoring can reduce the chance of a youth engaging in alcohol/drug abuse and other risk behaviors, but without guidance, many of these young people are at risk of becoming a part of the criminal justice system.
“We need compassionate and dedicated volunteers who want to be a part of this new program,” said Staci Halyak, the executive director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter. “If you enjoy having fun and want to make an impact on a young person’s life, this is the opportunity for you.”
If you would like to learn more about MCP, enroll a child or sign up to volunteer, please contact Big Brothers Big Sisters by calling (706) 278-0702 or e-mailing email@example.com.