The Amachi initiative was implemented in Philadelphia to reduce risks for children of incarcerated men and women. Research has found that these children are vulnerable because of the instability of their living situation as well as the feelings associated with having a parent in prison. Depression, poor academic achievement, substance abuse, and juvenile delinquency are more likely among the children of incarcerated parents than in the general population. Amachi seeks to provide a positive influence in these children's lives with adults recruited from faith-based communities. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America administers the program and supervises the screening, matching, and training of volunteers. Forty-two churches have committed to supplying ten mentors identified by the pastor. A total of 726 children have been matched with a volunteer since the inception of the program, of which 176 relationships have continued for more than two years. The mentors spend an average of 7.3 hours per month with the children on fun activities. Caregivers and mentors have reported positive changes in child self-confidence, academic performance, and school behavior. The program has been replicated in 23 other sites, with ten cities receiving funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. 5 notes.
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