High Rates of Incarceration

Louisiana has one of the country’s highest rates of incarceration, with one in every 55 persons behind bars, according to Pew Center research. When parolees are added, the number rises to one in 26. Thousands of local children have an imprisoned parent, and each experiences common vulnerabilities and disruptions. Every child has his or her own story and Mentoring Children of Promise recognizes that although there are common losses, each child must be viewed as unique with their own potential.

Volunteers of America teaches mentors, who agree to spend at least two hours a week with their mentees, how to connect with children facing challenges associated with incarceration. Social workers educate and guide mentors and caregivers to understand and address the many issues, including substance abuse, peer pressure, and sex, that children may face. The training of volunteers focuses on issues surrounding the family dynamic among child, caregiver, and incarcerated parent. The training is to help volunteers understand what a mentor is and, more importantly, what a mentor is not. Mentors are not substitute parents. They are not there to judge. They are positive role models.  

Brenda Williams, a mentor with Volunteers of America, shares her experiences and reasons for mentoring
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