Pilot Launched 3-12-04 by Governor Jeb Bush at Tomoka Correctional Institution, Daytona Beach, Florida
A Florida Mentoring Initiative
Governor’s Mentoring Initiative – managed by the Volunteer Florida Foundation, Take Stock in Children, Florida Department of Corrections, Kairos Horizon Communities in Prison
and Prison Fellowship Ministries
Governor Jeb Bush has announced a new and exciting public-private partnership. The Department of Corrections, together with Prison Fellowship Ministries, the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative - managed by the Volunteer Florida Foundation - Take Stock in Children the Florida Department of Corrections and Kairos Horizon Communities in Prison are instituting a pilot program to help approximately 60 children of incarcerated parents in the Florida prison system. The children live in 11 counties in Florida: Brevard, Broward, Indian River, Lake, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Volusia, St. Lucie, Duval and Collier. This project is the groundwork for a potentially much larger program to be implemented next year under a federal initiative.
The initial pilot is targeted to help children of prisoners at two facilities:
- Tomoka Correctional Institution (Volusia County), prisoners participating in the faith-based program; and
- Broward Correctional Institution (Broward County), women’s prison.
Children of Prisoners
According to the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, research has found that long term physical absence of a parent has profound effects on child development. Children of incarcerated parents are seven times more likely to become involved in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems. Parental arrest and confinement often lead to stress, trauma, stigmatization, and separation problems which may be compounded by existing poverty, violence, substance abuse, high-crime environments, child abuse and neglect, multiple caregivers, and/or prior separations. These children are more likely to develop attachment disorders and often exhibit broad varieties of behavioral, emotional, health, and educational problems. Many children of incarcerated parents are angry and lash out at others leading to confrontations with law enforcement. Lacking the support of families, schools, and other community institutions, they often do not develop values and social skills leading to the formation of successful relationships.
Between 1991 and 1999, the number of children with a parent in a Federal or state correctional facility increased by more than 100 percent, from approximately 900,000 to approximately 2,000,000. Like their parents, children of criminal offenders reflect the racial differences of the incarcerated populations. Seven percent of African American children have an incarcerated parent; almost three percent of Hispanic children have an incarcerated parent, while less than one percent of white children have an incarcerated parent.
The program partners for Children of Prisoners: Children of Promise are committed to helping these children overcome the challenges they face by providing stable mentors who will help them focus on education, interpersonal skills and sound decision-making.
Florida Department of Corrections - The Department of Corrections identified inmates participating in the Faith-Based programs at Tomoka and Broward and asked them to recommend their children for admission to the Take Stock in Children program.
Kairos Horizon Communities in Prison - Kairos Horizon will work with fathers of children in the CPCP program to assist them in supporting and accommodating the role of the mentor in the lives of their children. The organization presents a year-long faith-based residential program in prisons with an emphasis on fatherhood. The three program goals are the increase of personal responsibility, the increase of family responsibility and employability among the participants, thereby learning to live with others in mutual respect and support.
Prison Fellowship Ministries - This organization helped in identifying possible mentors through partnering with local churches and Prison Fellowship volunteer base. PFM is a nonprofit, volunteer-reliant organization focused on one overriding vision: that all those involved in and directly impacted by crime will experience the grace and peace of Jesus Christ. PFM recruits, trains and mobilizes volunteers from a variety of denominations and backgrounds to participate in a wide range of programs.
Take Stock in Children - Take Stock in Children (TSIC) will provide a customized version of its unique and proven mentoring program to these students. TSIC has a demonstrated record of helping low-income, at-risk children stay out of trouble, graduate from high school, attend college, and become productive citizens. It has helped more than 6,700 children in Florida.
Volunteer Florida Foundation - VFF will serve as the manager of the partnership. VFF is a nonprofit, public-private organization. It serves as a catalyst in creating and managing programs in literacy and strengthening families. Initiatives under VFF management were created by Governor Jeb Bush. One of those, the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative, in keeping with the state's pledge to America's Promise, helps students excel in school and life by recruiting Floridians to become mentors. The initiative, which began in 1999, promotes collaboration among state agencies, municipalities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and schools. As of January, the number of active mentors is 186,000, and rising.
How the Program Works
College and Vocational-Technical Scholarships Provide Motivation and Hope
Upon selection to the program, students will sign performance contracts agreeing to maintain good grades, remain crime and drug-free, exhibit good behavior, and meet with their mentors once a week. Students will be held accountable. Those who live up to their contract earn their scholarship of two years of community college tuition followed by two years of tuition at a state university. Students who prefer post-secondary vocational-technical training may utilize their scholarship to receive a technical degree.
Mentors and Case Managers Provide a Strong Support System
Each student selected to the program will be assigned a caring adult mentor who will meet with the student at his or her school for one hour a week. The mentors who volunteer every week are a critical component of the program because they provide the motivation, guidance, friendship, and support that helps ensure the children graduate high school and move on to utilize their scholarship. Student advocates (case managers) will also serve a critical support role. They will act as a liaison among students, parents, teachers, mentors, school administrators, and the community, and ensure that students have access to mentoring, tutoring, counseling, and other necessary support services. The student advocates will further monitor student grades, attendance, and progress. They will also develop success plans for children encountering problems, and track and report outcomes.
Mentor Recruitment and Training
Mentor recruitment and training will require that mentors are not only aware of the needs of the student they will be mentoring but also provide significant ways to manage the trauma present in a child whose parent is incarcerated. There are six main components that will need to be addressed during training: 1) anger management, 2) conflict resolution, 3) separation/loss, 4) communication skills, 5) domestic violence, and 6) diversity issues. Each mentor will need to understand the depth of their commitment since loss and neglect issues permeate the thinking and behaviors of these children. In addition to the direct training, indirect training and information will be provided through resources on the Take Stock in Children website, materials provided by case managers, and on-going communication with student advocates.
Measures and Outcomes
Take Stock in Children has a proven record of program management, monitoring, and tracking performance, as evidenced by its recent receipt of the “Excellence in Mentoring Award for Program Leadership” by MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Its student database contains student grades, test scores, attendance, and behavioral information. Effective use of data ensures that state and local management can identify those individual students who need assistance and can develop fact-based reports to improve operational practices and show overall program success. Through a partnership with the Florida Department of Education, Take Stock in Children is also able to track students’ progress through college and eventually into the workplace.
The pilot program is estimated to cost $500,000 from public and private funds. Key sponsors include: Aramark Correctional Services, PRIDE Enterprises, Wexford Health Sources Inc., Prison Health Services, Bridges of America, Veridian Corporation, Pro-Tech Monitoring, The Windsor Group, and BI, Incorporated.