A nonprofit organization in Alabama is matching mentors with children of incarcerated parents, reports the Birmingham News. Estimates from the U.S. Department of Justice indicate that about 2 percent of all children in the United States have a parent behind bars. That amounts to about 1.5 million kids nationwide, and at least 22,000 in Alabama. The rate is much higher for black children, about 7 percent of whom have an imprisoned parent. And studies show that the children of inmates are more likely than others to have trouble in school and end up behind bars themselves later in life.
IMPACT Family Counseling, a Birmingham-based nonprofit that offers a variety of counseling services, is trying to address that with its new Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, supported recently by a $37,500 grant from the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation. Amanda Tate, director of the program that was launched in December, said demand for mentors already is exceeding the supply. Thirty adults have volunteered, but 60 children have signed up. With a goal of 120 matches by October, IMPACT is aggressively recruiting adults to help, visiting Angel Tree parties and appearing at Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford’s anti-crime summits.