What is special about children of incarcerated parents?
The Seedling Mentor Program was launched in 2006, when a group of school principals expressed concern about the growing number of children in their schools affected by the incarceration of one or both of their parents.
These children face the same risks as any child who lives in a home where parental involvement and other resources are limited. However, their risk of social and emotional issues is increased due to little or no contact with the parent and confusing messages about the incarceration.
Embarrassment, anger, guilt and shame are often experienced by these children. In fact, parental incarceration is now recognized as an adverse childhood experience (ACE). A child’s risk of health, emotional and social problems increases along with the types or incidents of trauma that he experiences The ACE study shows a direct link between childhood trauma or unrelenting stress and:
- heart, lung, and liver disease;
- and early adoption of at-risk behaviors.
To learn more about the ACE study, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Some children of incarcerated parents who are experiencing the effects of stigma, shame and trauma can benefit greatly from having a mentor, a caring adult friend who can support the child in developing resilience.
The links below answer the following questions in a downloadable PDF that you are welcome to print out for your personal use.
- How will I know if the child I’m matched with is benefiting from our relationship? Are there statistics that address whether mentoring a young child is effective?
- This all sounds great for a child who could benefit from having another caring, trained adult in his life. What do I, the mentor, get out of it?
- When is the best time to apply?
- I see the value in mentoring and want to be sure this is a commitment that I can keep. How much time does mentoring take?
- What will the child’s family know about me?
- Will I meet the parent or guardian?
- Can I choose my child/school?
- Can we meet at another time besides lunch?
- What if I need help?
- What about taking gifts or lunch to the school?
- My mentee has invited me to his soccer game or some other event. Can I go?
- I would like my child, spouse, etc. to meet the child with whom I am matched. Is this allowed? I want my teenager to volunteer; can she come with me or be matched as a mentor?
- My mentee changes schools; what do I do?
- What if my mentee has a problem that he/she does not want to share with family or teachers or counselors?
- What should I do if my mentee misbehaves?
- What if my mentee does not seem to care about his/her education?
- How do I respond if my mentee asks a question that I cannot answer?
- What if my mentee mentions the incarcerated parent?
- What if my mentee never mentions the incarcerated parent?
- How do you close a relationship with a child?
- I think other members of my church would make great mentors. Is there someone who could come talk to my Sunday school class or other civic group?
- As a business owner or executive, how might encouraging my employees to mentor benefit my business?
What else would you like to know?
We don’t want to leave any question unanswered. If you did not find the answer to your question, please call us at 512-323-6371.