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Children of Promise Mentor Training Johnson County

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Scott Meyer

on 16 October 2014

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Transcript of Children of Promise Mentor Training Johnson County

Skills and useful info.
Being a Mentor!!!!
Thank you and have fun!!!!
You never know how big of a difference you can make with the smallest gesture of kindness.
And one more thing...
Mentors have been described by those that study mentoring as friends, father/mother figures, teachers, role models, approachable counselors, trusted advisers, challengers, compatriots, guides or cheerleaders. (Caruthers, 1993; Anderson and Shannon, 1995)
Children of Promise Mission: To provide positive experiences and positive adult role-models to “at-risk” kids in Johnson, Linn, and Jones counties. Ultimately, we hope to play a role in preventing/reducing the trend of generational incarceration.
Here are some of the things we would like you to know about how you can help our program run smoothly:
What is a Mentor?
Our Mission
Mentoring with Children of Promise
Community Corrections Improvement Association (CCIA)
1:1 Mentoring Program
Youth Leadership Program (YLP)
Foster Grandparents
Children of Promise Youth Programs
The Characteristics of a good mentor are relatively clear in the research. Mentors who are most successful are:
Respect the views and ideas of their mentee
Have an array of coping strategies
Are Consistent
Listen Well
Most importantly, good mentors like to have fun!!!
What makes a good Mentor?
...Mentoring is most often defined as a sustained relationship between a young person and an adult in which the adult provides the young person with support, guidance and assistance. (S. Jekielek, et.al. 2002)

Mentoring has all of the same meanings and descriptions when the mentee is a child of a prisoner. Mentors will need to examine individual biases, perspectives, and experiences to help to create an atmosphere of safety and trust through non-judgmental and relevant communication.
The mentors ability to be non-judgmental and to listen for subtle cues will be especially important to mentoring children whose parents are involved with the judicial system.
Group participation!
Which Characteristics of yours do you think will be most helpful to mentoring children of prisoners?

What opinions and biases might come up for you in the process?
Now we are going to do some roleplaying to practice some of the skills that we have gone over so far.
1. Mentor submits application / Interview.
2. Mentor training.
3. We submit background checks to the state. (Can take up to a month to be returned)
4. We match mentors and mentees based on common interests, location, etc.
5. Mentor and Mentee Matched!!!!
How the Matching Process Works
Studies show that short lived matches can have a detrimental effect on youth and that the impact of mentoring grows as the relationship matures." (Rhodes 2002)
The Impact of Longevity
What Mentoring is Not
If you could have one grand goal, the bigger the better, for your mentee to gain from your time together, what would it be?
Just like Superman, big goals are great but can be unrealistic.
What might be a realistic goal that you feel you can really stick to for your relationship with your mentee?
What are some of your expectations for the mentoring relationship?

Are they realistic?

Why or why not?
What we do know About...
“When my mother was sentenced, I felt that I was sentenced. She was sentenced to prison – to be away from her kids and family. I was sentenced as a child, to be without my mother.”
In 2007 more than 1.7 million children had a parent in prison or jail.
Nearly 10 million children have a parent who is or has been under some form of criminal supervision.
In 2007, one in 43 (2.3%) American children had a parent incarcerated in a state or federal prison.
One in 15 black children and 1 in 42 Latino children has a parent in prison, compared to 1 in 11 white children.
Approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are under ten years old.
2% of incarcerated fathers and 8-10% of mothers have children in foster care (these data do not include at least come persons in prison with children in foster care who are in kinship placements).
25% of children live with their fathers when a mother goes to prison
90% of children remain with their mothers when the father is incarcerated
50% of children with an incarcerated mother live with their grandmothers.
In the child welfare system, 1 in 10 children in in-home settings is living with someone who is on probation.
44-55% of fathers had at least one minor child living with them before incarceration.
64-84% of mothers had at least one minor child living with them before incarceration.
About 15-20% of children entering the child welfare system have incarcerated parents.
About 1 in every 5 African American children who come to the attention of child welfare agencies have a recently arrested parent compared to only 1 in 10 White children and only 1 in 20 Hispanic children.
In2007, 2.3 million people were held in Federal or State prisons of in local jails; 200,000 women and more than 2.2millionmen.
African Americans constitute 900,000 of the total prison and jail population today.
From 1995 to 2005, the number of women in prison nationwide increased by 57%.
There are now more than 7million Americans incarcerated or on probation or parole, an increase of more than 280% since 1982
Roughly two-thirds of women in prison are women of color, representing the fastest growing prison population.
93% of people in prison are male, 7% female.
25% of people in prison in state and local jails have mental illness.
In 2002, 76% of people in state prisons were convicted of non-violent crimes, including 31% for drug offences, and 29% for property offences.
Blacks make up 12.3 percent of the US population and 43.9% of the state and federal prison population. Latinos constitute 12.6% of the country’s population, but make up 18.3% of the prison population. Whites are 69% of the general population and only 34.7% of those incarcerated.
One in every 3 Black males born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime.
In 2007 there were 809,000 parents in prison, and increase of 79% from 1991.
Seventy five percent of women and 65% of men in prison are parents.
Incarcerated parents lose their parental rights at a disproportionate rate due to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) which set strict timelines for initiating Termination of Parental Rights (15 of last 22 months).
Seventy-two percent of incarcerated mothers with children under age 18 lived with those children before entering prison.
54% of mothers and 57% of fathers in state prisons reported never receiving a visit from their children.
62% of parents in state prisons and 84%of parents in federal prisons are held over 100 miles from their residence. 43% of parents in federal prisons are held over 500 miles away from their last residence.
Children of Prisoners
When a mentor and a mentee are matched, a staff person from Children of Promise goes with the mentor to the mentees house. Some of the things we do at the matches are:
Introduce the Mentor, mentee and family
Find out about everyone's expecations for the match
Go through the mentor/mentee contract
Exchange contact information
Set up a day and time for the next meeting!!!
Answer any questions people may have
The Match
Generational incarceration refers to the statistical fact that children of parents who have been to prison, been on probation, or been on parole are more likely to end up involved with those institutions themselves. Many factors, including socio-economic status and the disproportionate rate of minorities in our prison system, lead to generational incarceration.
Generational Incarceration
It’s hard to live away from my children; tears of sadness fill my eyes; and through my tears I alleviate the pain; my tears reflect the love I feel for them.
Parents in Prison
The uneven geographic distribution of incarceration in poor communities and communities of color means that the effects radiate beyond the individual to the broader community, presenting profound long-term consequences for family integrity, public health and general quality of life.
Who Is In Prison
Now lets practice using the example we just saw.

Malik (African American) and his mentor (Caucasian) are driving to the movies and they pass a car on the side of the road with a police car behind it. The driver of the car is black. Malik says “damn, another brother pulled over for no good reason. . . if my dad hadn’t been profiled he would’ve never been arrested. All he had was some weed…”
Practice Scenario
How would you respond if your mentee asked you about drugs or alchohol?

How would you respond if your mentee asked you about sex?

What might be some issues surrounding race that could come up in conversation?
Other Topics to Think About
Why are setting Boundaries important?
How do you set boundaries?
When do you allow your boundaries to be tested lessened?
What do you do when a boundary is pushed that you are not comfortable with?
Setting your Boundaries
Examples: *Parent discusses financial problems with you. *Parent or mentee asks if their younger sibling can join you. * Your mentee calls you late at night. * Your mentee wants to do things that cost money.
As teens move through the process of developing sexuality, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning youth face unique challenges related to combating fear, stigma, and isolation. They often have questions and look to trusted adults for conversations about these important issues.

Our position at Children of Promise is that we ask our mentors to look at these issues from a perspective of acceptance regardless of personal beliefs. As a mentor you are someone who can help your mentee think about these issues but do not need to attempt to sway them in one direction or another.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth
There are many strategies that can help promote a healthy view of sexuality and some that can negatively impact youth. The following are questions have both Positive and Negative responces shown.
Tips for mentors who belive their mentee may be LGBTQ.
Understand sexual orientation and identity development is a natural component of human growth and development
Understand that there are unique concerns of gay/lesbian youth, and particularly youth of color, including the potential for additional stigma and isolation
Seeks out additional information to support their mentee

Seeks to affirm sexual orientation and identity development
Does not make assumptions about sexual orientation of mentee
Recognizes effects of his/her own sexual orientation
Does not attempt to change sexual orientation

Looks for and supports the youth’s strengths related to the development of his/her sexual identity
Supports the youth in the exploration of coming out
Aware of the consequences of coming out or seeks appropriate information and assistance

Recognizes the effects of prejudice and discrimination on relationships

Recognizes the family or caregiver may need education and support in understanding healthy and intimate relationships between people of the same sex
Honors the importance of extended families and families of origin for the youth during this developmental process
Assumes a desire by the family to work together through the process of disclosure

Seek out and use appropriate resources
Actively counter misunderstanding and discrimination
Positive Appoaches
Believes homosexuality is a disorder/pathology
Automatically attributes problems to sexual orientation
Discounts self-discloser of sexual orientation as a stage or phase
Fails to recognize homophobia.
Promotes belief that homosexuality is a sin or morally wrong.

Allows personal beliefs to affect quality of interactions
Trivializes sexual orientation
Focuses on sexual orientation when it is irrelevant to the conversation of interaction
Applies pressure to change sexual orientation
Uses heterosexual language

Underestimates the possible consequences of coming out
Does not understand LGBTQ identity development

Underestimates the importance of intimate relationships

Assumes the family is the cause of the youth’s sexual orientation
Assumes that the youth and not the family is affected by disclosure

Lacks expertise and relies on mentee’s knowledge
Teaches inaccurate information
Negative Approaches
What if I think my mentee is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ)?

How should I respond to my mentee if I think he or she is LGBTQ?

How do I support my mentee in the development of their sexual identity?

How do I support the relationships of my LGBTQ mentee?

How do I respond to the family of my LGBTQ mentee?

How can I learn more to help my mentee?
Why does Children of Promise ask for a minimum one year commitment?
A quick note:
Care must be taken with these data on disproportionate representation of children of color so as not to interpret them as an indictment of specific groups or people but rather as a reflection of the long-term impact of poverty, segregation, discrimination and urbanization.
In order to understand the importance of fighting generational incarceration, it is important to look at some statistics regarding our prison system and how it affects the people involved.
When going into a mentoring relationship it is important to think about why mentoring matters. Why are you spending time with your mentee and what can both of you hope to accomplish? An easy way to think about this is to think of a mentor as being a “buffer” between a child and the things they may encounter in the world.
Why mentoring matters
By “being a buffer” we don’t mean shielding a child from reality, what we mean is helping a child to understand and cope with hardships and helping them realize their successes.
Mentors as "Buffers"
Like all children, children of prisoners, face a variety of risk factors every day. These can be stress from relationships, substance abuse issues, or challenges at school, to name a few. While it is impossible to predict all the risk factors a child will have to face, the protective factors are relatively easy to identify. Protective factors include:
Enhancing Protective Factors
What are some successes you have had in your life?
How did those around you help you to realize those successes?

What have been some obstacles you have faced?
How did you overcome them?
Did you have any help overcoming them?
Strong relationships with parents/caregivers/relatives
Connections to teachers/pastors/ counselors
Academic competence
Availability of after school activities
Skills and talents (sports, the arts)
Access to community resources and recreation
Easy going or likable temperament
Physical attractiveness
Connection to a community of faith
People to talk to about faith, God, the meaning of life
Opportunities to worship
How might mentoring enhance some of these protective factors?
We are required to collect the hours you spent with you mentee every month.
Once a year we have a Recognition Event! This is where we celebrate our matches and the program as a whole. You are not required to attend but we would love to see you there!
We occasionally send out emails asking for your input on how we can improve our program and would love to hear back from you concerning anything we can improve.
We must have completed Policies and Procedures, and all background checks before you are matched.
The ingredients of attachment are:
Predictability, and
A Few Things To Remember
There are many ways that mentors can promote trust and attachment with their mentees. A few practical examples are emphasized.
Being on time for meetings with their mentees
Talking about what will happen “next time”
Defining the rules of the relationship such as what name the mentor wants to be called, when the mentees can and can’t talk with them on the phone and whether or not friends or siblings can come along.
The A, B, C’s of relationships: What Everyone Needs from Relationships
Authenticity – being real and predictable, to be real enough to be known and understood.
Balance – acceptance and limit setting, giving and getting, talking and listening, rules and acceptance.
Care – unconditional positive regard, to be unconditionally loved or cared for.
Attachment and Relationships
Children of Prisoners may be angry. This anger can be compounded by racism, school failure social and emotional difficulties and lack of sleep and nutrition. Good limit setting skills, the ability to acknowledge the feelings behind the anger and a solid awareness of the realities of life for the child will help mentors to deal with angry outbursts. Remember to be clear about the rules. Never allow hitting or violent reactions but do not set limits on or minimize the anger, only the behavior.
Managing rage and aggression in children of prisoners
Substance Abuse is use of drugs of alcohol that jeopardizes the health or welfare of self or others of interferes with occupational or social functioning. Addiction or chemical dependence is a disease occurring when continued use or abuse of drugs or alcohol has caused changes in a person’s body, mind or behavior. Substance use and abuse is often part of the process of “self-medication” to block out painful or distressing feelings and is part of life for most incarcerated parents. Those who are victims of physical or sexual abuse or who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder are at increased risk for self medicating with street drugs and developing addictions.
Substance Abuse
Mental Health (cont.)
Mental Health
Treatments for substance abuse and addictions are often unavailable and/or ineffective.
Relapse is always a part of recovery and needs to be seen as such rather than as a failure.
There is not enough information available on the effects of parents relapsing on children’s stability and well-being.
It is often difficult for mentors and all helping professionals not to project or interject their own family experiences (positive and negative) with addictions, treatment and recovery.
There is some evidence that many drug and alcohol using parents do, indeed, feel responsible for their children and are proud of them and concerned about their well-being. They are not, however, able to balance their addictions with the parenting tasks and responsibilities even when they are aware of the negative effects on children.
It is crucial to remember that a part of the definition of addiction is “continuing the behavior in spite of knowing the consequences.”
For more information go to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration: The Center for Mental Health Services

What We Know:
Many mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders and ADD/ADHD are present in many jobless, homeless and incarcerated adults as symptoms interfere with stability, impulse control, productivity and sociability.
Significant numbers of incarcerated adults with these mental health conditions were physically and or sexually abused in their past and have spent their lives trying to adapt to the pain and confusion such abuse causes.
The Impact:
Addicted / Depressed Parents are:
Easily annoyed
More negative
Less consistent in discipline
Less able to attend to their children’s needs
Less likely to play with, talk or read to their children
Addicted / Anxious Parents are:
Nervous and or restless
“over” protective
Have trouble sleeping and are therefore often tired
Less likely to allow children to explore the environment
More likely to mistrust people and places in the child’s world
More likely to be rigid and inflexible.
Young children of parents with mental illness are more negative and less responsive than children of well parents and less likely to form secure attachments.
School-aged children of depressed or anxious parents are more likely to be diagnosed with adjustment disorders and lack academic readiness skills.
Adolescents with mentally ill parents are at heightened risk for aggressive disorders, anxiety disorders and depression.
There are environmental risks that contribute to or exacerbate adult mental illness:
Lack of Community Supports
“Stressor Pileup”
Involvement in the criminal justice System
Racial discrimination is emerging as a primary cause of depression as well as a major contributor to overall stress levels in individuals and in families of color and in particular for African American families.

Many parents with mild or moderate depression or anxiety are effective and competent parents. Others find it hardest when their child reaches the age that they were when they experienced trauma or began to have difficulty or around the anniversary dates of significant losses or tragedies. Still others struggle constantly to navigate the stormy waters of mental illness while raising children.
Keep in Mind
Resource – National Institute of Mental Health
The Really Hard Stuff
Unfortunately children of Prisoners are at some risk of sexual abuse. They often live in environments of chaos, poverty and substance use and addictions. .Caregivers may be unable to protect them from predatory behavior of others. For some, the risk comes from attachment disruptions that lead them to seek affection and fall victim to adults with poor boundaries.

Mentors may have to deal with sexualized overtures from mentees, or respond to questions and conversations about a mentee’s sexual impulses or promiscuity. Be very purposeful in giving mentees affection. Think about any misunderstandings that a gesture could create. Think ahead . . . what would you do if a mentee asked you about your sex life? If he/ she asked if they were attractive to you? How old were you when you first had intercourse? Be prepared to answer by acknowledging their curiosity and setting limits about things that are private.
Mentoring Sexually Abused Children
Resource: National Center for Victims of Crime
And with any of these issues, please contact the Children of Promise staff for assistance.
Meaningful differences
Sometimes and Maybe Statements
Attachment and Relationships
If your mentee is LGBTQ
The Really Hard Stuff
Meaningful Differences
About 90% of the children in our program are minorities. This is a reflection of the disproportionate rate of minority incarceration in our country. In many cases, mentors will be of a different race, and therefore there is a high likelihood of cross race matches. Mentors should be prepared to work with children from different cultures and who have different worldviews and perspectives that are based on race or ethnicity.
These are issues that are important to all of us. But for children of incarcerated parents these issues may be particularly important for two reasons:

Race matters - There are demographics, facts and opinions that influence how people see the world.
Trust is key - How you respond to these world views and other issues of race, class, ethnicity will influence your ability to develope and maintain trust with the mentee.
Things to think about...
NUMBER 1: Admit when you don’t know, are confused or don’t agree about issues that are controversial!!!!
Learn about some of these issues, the facts as well as the popular beliefs.
Suggest that you find out more together.
Use sometimes or maybe statements rather than expressing one option for reality or a universal perspective.
Be yourself and relax. Children respond to honesty and openness.
Embrace differences and you may both learn a lot!
The use of sometimes and maybe statements puts 2 or 3 options for causes, reasons of issues on the table for people to think about.

When asked a question that doesn't always have a clear answer, it is sometimes tempting to tell a mentee our personal opinion on the matter. While we may have a strong opinion about an issue (politics or social issues for example) it is important to let the mentees think for themselves.
Sometimes and Maybe Statements
Malik (African American) and his mentor (Caucasian) are driving to the movies and they pass a car on the side of the road with a police car behind it. The driver of the car is black. Malik says “damn, another brother pulled over for no good reason. . . if my dad hadn’t been profiled he would’ve never been arrested. All he had was some weed…”

Responding with a sometimes statement / giving possible reasons or explainations

“Yeah sometimes people are locked up because they were targeted because of their race or appearance or were guilty but received an unfair sentence, and sometimes people are in prison because they broke the law.”

This is a way to open up the issue and see how you mentee feels about the situation without saying the dreaded “and how does that make you feel…?”
How might you respond to this comment?

What are all of the issues Malik's statement raises?

Did you notice that he brought up his dad?

What are some ways to help Malik open up without saying "...and how does that make you feel?
The key to almost all of these conversations is to be open and non-judgemental. If you look shocked by what a mentee is saying you risk them closing up so know that all of their beliefs are reasonable based on their experiences.

And finally, think about the topics now. That way you will have an idea of how you want to talk about them when they do arise.
Being a mentor can be an incredible and rewarding experience. You wouldn't be here if you didn't want to get to know a child and help them in their formative years. Be yourself and have fun!
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