EYA to Provide New Mentoring Program For Children of Prisoners in Pinellas County
CLEARWATER - Eckerd Youth Alternatives Inc. (EYA), in conjunction with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, will create and operate a new mentoring program for the children of prisoners in Pinellas County, announced EYA President and CEO David Dennis.
"Research has proven that the children of those who are incarcerated often suffer from a multitude of issues," Dennis said. "They desperately need mentors in their lives, and we are thrilled that we will be able to provide this service."
EYA was awarded a $149,527 federal grant to create and staff the program in Pinellas, as well as Brevard and Marion Counties. The money will cover the first year of a three-year budget.
EYA will recruit, train, match and provide support for the unpaid mentors, as well as handle issues such as background checks, record keeping, success measurement and other duties. The Department of Elder Affairs will assist in locating seniors who are interested in mentoring for the program.
EYA's goal is to reach 150 new matches for each of the three years of the program, resulting in 450 matches in the three counties. The mentors will meet with the youth weekly and offer consistent support, educational and relaxation opportunities.
The program will feature a community-based approach that builds on continuous input from caregivers, mentors, the courts, community, frontline staff, executive decision makers, stakeholders and the children served.
Studies have shown that offspring of prisoners are more likely to exhibit emotional and behavior problems.
About 2.8 percent of all children in the United States (one in 40) have an incarcerated parent. More than 2 million U.S. youth out of almost 73 million have at least one parent behind bars. Another 8 million children, at some point in their childhood, have at least one parent who is incarcerated.
For more information on the program, or to volunteer to be a mentor, contact Michael Warner at 727-439-1188.
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