Every year, some six million at-risk children in the U.S. have at least one parent currently in prison or jail. Parental incarceration is one of the ten categories of childhood trauma—referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)—that were identified by Kaiser Permanente & the US CDC. Children impacted by parental incarceration fare even worse than other at-risk children on a range of mental and physical health outcomes and educational achievement.
In the spirit of our founder Fay Honey Knopp, who always tackled tough challenges head on, we’ve established a unique mentoring program to address the needs of children of incarcerated parents in Vermont.
Launched in Addison County in 2017 and expanding into Rutland County in 2019, New Circle Mentoring goes beyond traditional mentoring practices in the following ways:
>Targeted Mentor Recruitment. Traditional mentoring programs seek volunteers for a 1- or 2-year commitment through advertising and word of mouth. New Circle Mentoring proactively recruits experienced school counselors, teachers, health care professionals, & social workers and requires a minimum 5-year commitment.
>Strong Support Staff. New Circles mentors are supported not only by a program director, but also by a clinical director who provides psychosocial expertise and support for the mentoring relationship.
>Partnerships. New Circle Mentoring partners with the school districts and mental health organizations in the counties it serves to ensure that our mentees receive individualized wrap-around services that also benefit their families.
>Trauma-Informed Mentoring Practices. Experts agree that parental incarceration exacerbates the harmful effects of the other nine ACEs. Based on this fact, the staff works to develop trainings and group activities for mentors and mentees that facilitate positive relationships and build social connections through the community. The goal is to combat the effects of childhood trauma by helping to build mentee resilience.
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