New Program Provides Mentors for Prisoners’ Children

WICHITA, Kan. — A local organization is poised to expand the youth
population it serves, thanks to a recent federal grant intended to provide mentors for
children with incarcerated parents. Youth Horizons is a Christian organization that has
matched at-risk children with mentors in Wichita for more than 24 years, and is the only
organization in Kansas to receive this grant.
Although Youth Horizons has previously provided mentors for children whose
parents are in prison, this program will help reach more of them, according to Dave
Rutler, director of the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program.
“Our goal is to serve an additional 200 kids (with incarcerated parents) over the
next three years, which would nearly triple the size of our overall mentoring program,”
Rutler says.
According to Rutler, there are many reasons children with an incarcerated parent
need a mentor in their lives, including the possibility that they’ve witnessed criminal
behavior firsthand. Such children also face dramatically increased odds of following in
their parent’s footsteps and becoming incarcerated later in life, a trend Youth Horizons
would like to help reverse.
“Our organization focuses on serving at-risk children,” Rutler says. “I believe
children with incarcerated parents are the most at-risk of all.”

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