LEWISTON – The Child Health Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Program and the Volunteers of America, Northern New England, have joined to bring a new mentoring program to the area.

The program, Mentoring Children of Prisoners, is funded by a grant from the Administration for Children and Families and is free to families who have a parent in prison or jail.

Through the program, children ages 8 to 15, who have a parent in prison or jail, will be offered support as they transition from childhood to adolescence through a mentoring partnership with a special adult friend.

The program is designed to increase the resiliency of children whose parent is incarcerated by enhancing or building protective factors through the use of the mentoring process.

It is important for the children to maintain a relationship with their mother or father who is in prison or jail, therefore this program is not a substitute for the parent. A volunteer mentor is there to offer support and encouragement as needed and to offer a friendship, not to replace a parent.

As a participant, children will have the opportunity to meet with a volunteer mentor on a weekly basis. After a child is matched with a mentor, a match support specialist will help them get to know one another, work out differences that might come up and choose activities.

The activities may be ones they choose or activities that are hosted by the Mentoring Children of Prisoners group. Children will meet peers who have parents that are incarcerated and learn that they are not alone. They will be encouraged to keep in contact with their incarcerated parent.

Those wishing more information on the Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program can call 743-7035.

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