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Federal Grant to Give 1500 Illinois Prisoners’ Kids Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentors

SPRINGFIELD, IL, (Nov. 16, 2010) – Support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making it possible for 1500 more Illinois children of prisoners to have a specially trained Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor. A $4.5 million three-year HHS grant is enabling the Big Brothers Big Sisters Illinois State Association to provide consistent, enduring, success-focused mentoring services to the children, their custodial parent or guardians, and their volunteer mentors.

 

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Federal Grant to Give 1500 Illinois Prisoners' Kids Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentors

"Our organizational framework is in place to begin serving these kids immediately," said Barbara Cempura, president of the statewide mentoring association. "This grant will allow us to more than double the 675 mentees currently enrolled in our Mentoring Children of Prisoners programs. Studies find when served by Big Brothers Big Sisters, these kids and others who face serious adversity have a greater chance than their peers for having positive relationship interactions and breaking cycles of crime, poverty and school underperformance too often linked to youths in their circumstances."  

 

The Illinois Department of Corrections estimates 35,525 of the state’s children have at least one parent behind bars. According to the director and founder of the Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents, more than half the children in the juvenile justice system have had a parent in prison.

"The Big Brothers Big Sisters staff-supported mentors make positive impacts on the lives of Illinois children facing adversity every day. With these new Federal funds, Big Brothers Big Sisters will be able to ensure goal-focused, quality, mentoring relationships for even more children of prisoners in Illinois," said Cristal Thomas, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Big Brothers Big Sisters launched its Mentoring Children of Prisoners or “Amachi” program in 2001, in partnership with Public/Private Ventures, the Program on Religion, Research & Urban Civil Society, and the University of Pennsylvania. Amachi is a West African word that means, "Who knows but what God has brought us through this child."

Under the HHS grant, 14 of Illinois’ 16 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies will get mentee and volunteer referrals through relationships with Angel Tree Ministries, the state Department of Children and Family Services, schools, the mentoring network’s African American fraternity partners, and other community groups and businesses.

The first-of- its- kind grant to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Illinois State Association requires the organization to raise matching dollars as its agencies enroll and serve 500 new mentoring matches during each of the three funding years. The state association will administer the grant from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties will be responsible for financial administration. This will centralize funds distribution and the management and tracking of data reported by agencies, such as frequency and type of match activities; mentees’ progress in and out of school; staff support services delivered; volunteer training, and family support required. The participating Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies are strategically located to serve more than 80 percent of the counties in the state from the large urban areas of Chicago and Belleville to Peoria, Rockford, and rural areas like Carbondale, Olney and Charleston. The Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies that will deliver services under the grant include:

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois (Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Greene, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph , St. Clair & Washington counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jackson & Perry Counties
• Mid-Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters (Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Moultrie & Shelby counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago (DuPage, Cook, Southern Kane & Lake counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will & Grundy Counties (also serves Kankakee & Iroquois counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Kane and Kendall Counties
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois (Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Livingston, Macon, McLean & Piatt counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois (Adams, Brown, Cass, Morgan & Schuyler counties)
• Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters (Fulton, Knox, Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell & Woodford counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock River Valley (Boone and Winnebago counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Illinois Capital Region (Christian, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery & Sangamon counties)
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Richland County

About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”).

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support that is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that “Littles” will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 250,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate, or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.


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