Overview and Inventory of HHS Efforts to Assist Incarcerated and Reentering Individuals and their Families . Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program (MCP)


Type of Activity: Demonstration Projects

Funding Mechanism: Discretionary Grants

Total Available Funding: $49.3 Million

Number of Awards: 149

Average Award Amount per Year: $303,504

Length of Project Period: 3 years

Federal Partners: None

SummaryMCP grant recipients provide services, both directly and in collaboration with other local agencies, to strengthen and support children of incarcerated parents and their families. This includes connecting children with their imprisoned parent, when appropriate. Grantees also cultivate mentors from within the child’s family and community through:

  • Recruiting: Grantees are required to recruit a diverse group of mentors who are committed to spending at least an hour a week with their mentee for at least a year.
  • Screening: Grant recipients are required to screen volunteers extensively through appropriate reference checks, criminal background checks, and child and domestic abuse record checks, to ensure that they pose no safety risk to the young people.
  • Training: Mentors must attend an orientation and training in mentoring skills before being assigned to a young person. Caregivers and mentees also receive training in an effort to strengthen the mentor, mentee and caregiver relationships.
  • Monitoring and Evaluating: Grantees are required to provide ongoing support and oversight of the mentoring relationship to ensure that young people are receiving appropriate support and are benefiting from the mentor match. Outcomes for each participating youth are measured by such factors as academic achievement and avoidance of risky behaviors.

Background:Approximately two million children and youth in the United States have at least one parent in a correctional facility. In addition to suffering from the relationship disruption, these young people often struggle with the economic, social, and emotional burdens of the incarceration. Mentoring programs can help young people by reducing their first-time drug and alcohol use, improving their relationships and academic performance, and reducing the likelihood that they will initiate violence. Mentored young people also have opportunities to develop a trusting relationship with a supportive, caring adult in a stable environment that can promote healthy values and strong families.

FYSB began funding mentoring projects in 2003, under the provisions of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 (Public Law 107 - 133). Congress reauthorized the Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program through the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-288).

Through the MCP Program, FYSB awards grants to community organizations that provide mentors to children and youth with incarcerated parents. Each mentoring program is designed to ensure that mentors provide young people with safe and trusting relationships; healthy messages about life and social behavior; appropriate guidance from a positive adult role model; and opportunities for increased participation in education, civic service, and community activities.

Examples of current grantees:FYSB currently funds 149 MCP grantees, which represent State and local governments, community, faith-based and tribal organizations such as: The City of Longview, TX; National Alliance of Faith and Justice; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Sioux Land.

Location(s) of Projects:FYSB funded MCP grantees are located nationwide. They include communities like the ones mentioned above.

Evaluation Activities:FYSB is currently conducting an independent evaluation studying the characteristics of the programs funded by the MCP program and their outcomes.


Curtis O. Porter
Director, Division of Youth Services
Phone: (202) 205-8306
Email: curtis.porter@acf.hhs.gov

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