Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing


on June 3, 2011

One of the things I do when not writing is mentor a young lady through the Volunteers of America, Children of Promise Program. This program matches mentors with young people who have or have had an incarcerated parent. My mentee and I do many fun things. We go to the Mall to find as many Justin Bieber items as we can (her idea), we picked out supplies for my new puppy, and then last weekend, she went with me to get the new puppy.  She’d had an overnight the night before with a friend, and was pretty tired. Her job was to keep the new puppy entertained in the hour in a half ride home. But, about 30 minutes into the trip, I looked in the mirror, and both of them were fast asleep!

I enjoy being a mentor and learn alot about what it’s like to be ten today–somethings are the same as when I was ten, but somethings are different.

Mentoring is something which is very important to me. I’ve had many great mentors from my writing mentors to mentors who have helped me learn how to be a small business. My first middle grade novel that I wrote, Stained Glass Summer–currently on submission, is about artistic mentorship.

Many of the teens I work with in the juvenile detention center workshop have a parent or family member who is also incarcerated.  When I wrote Weaving Magic, I modeled my main character, Christopher after the teens I see in the detention center. I knew he had to have a parent who is imprisoned.

The research says that there may be as many as 2 million children in the U.S. who have one or more parents in prison or jail. That’s close to two out of every 100 children (Wright & Seymour, 2000).Children with incarcerated parents are seven (7) times more likely than their peers to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.

Today, I was saddened to learn that the Federal Funding to the Volunteers of America, Children of Promise Program has been cut.  As a mentor, this deeply saddens me.  The Program is funded by both State and Federal monies, and although I will still be a mentor, this funding cut will impact who can be served and how things will operate.

Research by the Child Welfare League of America suggests that children who experience a parent’s incarceration also are at increased risk for:

  • poor academic achievement
  • early pregnancy
  • substance abuse
  • delinquency
  • truancy
  • gang involvement

However, mentoring programs can:

  • reduce first-time drug and alcohol use
  • increase regular school attendance
  • enhance grades
  • improve relationships with peers and adults

I’m saddened that we would cut funding to a program which provides a solution to so many young people who, through no fault of their own, have already lost the thing which is the most important to a child–a parent.


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