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Research in Action #10


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Issue #10: Mentoring: A Promising Intervention for Children of Prisoners

This series was developed by MENTOR and translates the latest mentoring research into tangible strategies for mentoring practitioners. Research In Action (RIA) makes the best available research accessible and relevant to the mentoring field.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Research in Action #10

  1. 1. Research in Action Series Mentoring: A Promising Intervention for Children of Prisoners
  2. 2. Overview of Research in Action Series <ul><li>MENTOR has developed an innovative series - Research in Action </li></ul><ul><li>Translates the latest research on mentoring into tangible strategies for mentoring practitioners. </li></ul><ul><li>Makes the best available research accessible and relevant to the mentoring field.   </li></ul><ul><li>Using the Research in Action series, programs can ensure their practices are based on current research, resulting in improved services and better impacts for young people. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>10 issues </li></ul><ul><li>Each issue provides:   </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul></ul>Overview of Research in Action Series
  4. 4. Research in Action Issues: <ul><li>Mentoring: A Key Resource for Promoting Positive Youth Development </li></ul><ul><li>Effectiveness of Mentoring Program Practices </li></ul><ul><li>Program Staff in Youth Mentoring Programs: Qualifications, Training, and Retention </li></ul><ul><li>Fostering Close and Effective Relationships in Youth Mentoring Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Why Youth Mentoring Relationships End </li></ul><ul><li>School-Based Mentoring </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-Age Peer Mentoring </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring Across Generations: Engaging 50+ Adults as Mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Youth Mentoring: Do Race and Ethnicity Really Matter? </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring: A Promising Intervention for Children of Prisoners </li></ul>
  5. 5. Issue 10: Children of Prisoners <ul><li>Download this issue by visiting </li></ul><ul><li>The research section of this issue was written by Shay Bilchik, J.D., Georgetown University </li></ul>
  6. 6. Research - Introduction <ul><li>Incarceration rates have increased substantially in the United States over the past several decades </li></ul><ul><li>“Collateral damage” </li></ul><ul><li>These children, along with their families, have been described as more at-risk than any other subculture in this country. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Research – The Scope of the Problem <ul><li>More than two million children have a parent incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails </li></ul><ul><li>From 1991 to 2001 the number of children with parents in prison jumped by more than 50 percent </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the children in question have fathers who are incarcerated, but an estimated 8–10 percent have mothers in jail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This group of children are one of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Those impacted by parental incarceration already face many risk factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poverty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Instability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced access to support </li></ul></ul>Research – The Scope of the Problem
  9. 9. Research – The Scope of the Problem <ul><li>Many children of incarcerated parents were living with non-parental caregivers prior to the incarceration of their parent. </li></ul><ul><li>Only ½ of the inmate parents were living with their children prior to entering prison. </li></ul><ul><li>Mothers lived with their children at higher rates at the time of incarceration. </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer than 10% of children of mothers and 4% of children of fathers are place in foster care. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Research – The Scope of the Problem <ul><li>The length of a parent’s incarceration has an impact on the child. </li></ul><ul><li>Fathers are more likely to have longer sentences than mothers. </li></ul><ul><li>Fathers are twice as likely to be incarcerated for violent offenses. </li></ul><ul><li>Length of sentence impacts the possibility of renewing parent-child ties. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Developmental Perspective <ul><li>The child can be impacted at multiple stage of the incarceration process (arrest, imprisonment, and re-entry) </li></ul><ul><li>The age and stage of development of the child also effects the impact of incarceration </li></ul><ul><li>Children who are uninformed about their parent’s incarceration are undermined in their ability to cope and are left more anxious and fearful </li></ul><ul><li>Programs designed to intervene in a positive manner must take these considerations into account </li></ul>
  12. 12. Developmental Perspective <ul><li>Children need honest, factual information and validation </li></ul><ul><li>Allows them to better understand and begin the process of grieving and coping </li></ul><ul><li>“Forced Silence” </li></ul>
  13. 13. Developmental Perspective <ul><li>The separation from a parent with whom the child has formed a strong connection can be traumatic regardless of age </li></ul><ul><li>The separation of an infant or young child from a mother has particularly significant consequences </li></ul>
  14. 14. Developmental Perspective <ul><li>School-age children can be displaced from school </li></ul><ul><li>Adolescents have been found to reject boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Adolescents with incarcerated mothers are more likely to drop out </li></ul>
  15. 15. Mentoring – A Hopeful Intervention <ul><li>While mentoring programs provided only modest benefit to average youth, they were more effective with “high-risk” groups </li></ul><ul><li>The longer the mentoring relationship the greater benefit </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring can improve children’s socio-emotional skills, increase their capacity for attachments, and produce stronger, healthier relationships between children and significant others </li></ul><ul><li>The greatest need of these children is a meaningful, lasting relationship </li></ul>
  16. 16. Mentoring- A Hopeful Intervention <ul><li>Failed matches may cause harm </li></ul><ul><li>Mentor training, on-going support, and resources for mentors are essential to success </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Social supports for children and a sense of hopefulness are protective factors </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring cab be a positive intervention </li></ul>Mentoring – A Hopeful Intervention
  18. 18. <ul><li>Opportunity & Risk </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The opportunity is to provide a much needed greater sense of hope, along with a supportive individual in the child’s life. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The risk is the damage that can be done to an already fragile set of life circumstances through mentoring that doesn’t meet the higher quality demanded for this population </li></ul></ul>Mentoring – A Hopeful Intervention
  19. 19. Mentoring- A Hopeful Intervention <ul><li>Special training needs for programs working with children of prisoners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Targeted recruitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Closure </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Action- Overview <ul><li>Demonstrate how developmental impacts of having a parent in prison can affect the mentoring relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Offer strategies to counter these impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Provide general strategies for working with children of prisoners </li></ul>
  21. 21. A Model <ul><li>The age of the child when the parent is arrested impacts the child developmentally </li></ul><ul><li>Developmental impacts may have an affect on the mentoring relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Mentoring programs and mentors can implement proven strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Successful interventions lead to stronger and longer lasting mentoring relationships </li></ul>
  22. 22. Key Points <ul><li>Each child is unique </li></ul><ul><li>The incarceration of a parent is traumatic and impacts development </li></ul><ul><li>Each stage of incarceration has an impact on the child and family </li></ul><ul><li>Complicating factors effect the life situation of the child and can further disrupt the family </li></ul><ul><li>Social supports and a sense of hope can mediate the impact of parental incarceration </li></ul>
  23. 23. Developmental Impacts of Parental Incarceration by Age of Child at Arrest
  24. 24. What Can Programs Do? <ul><li>Follow the Michigan Quality Program Standards for Youth Mentoring </li></ul><ul><li>Set clear expectations with mentors, mentees, families, caregivers, and incarcerated parents about: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meetings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcomes </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. What Can Programs Do? <ul><li>Involvement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Families and caregivers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incarcerated parents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Screening </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mentors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mentees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mentee Training </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boundaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Using” their mentor </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. What Can Programs Do? <ul><li>Mentor Training </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Children of prisoners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developmental stages of youth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Values and beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boundaries </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. What Can Programs Do? <ul><li>Additional Training and Resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Closure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Release/re-entry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Support and Supervision </li></ul>
  28. 28. What Can Mentors Do? <ul><li>Be consistent, patient and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Have realistic expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Hold mentees accountable </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for help and support </li></ul><ul><li>Remain committed to the relationship </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>This presentation provides an overview of Research in Action Issue 10: Mentoring: A Promising Intervention for Children of Prisoners </li></ul><ul><li>This tool was produced by MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership and can be accessed at </li></ul>