* Fact: 8,500 children in Allegheny County have at least one parent incarcerated. Statewide, more than 81,000 children are in the same situation.
* Fact: Two-thirds of the young people in the juvenile justice system have one or both parents in prison.
* Fact: There are 12 times as many children with a parent behind bars than with a parent in the military, and seven times as many children than in foster care.
* Fact: The children of incarcerated parents are the silent victims of crime.
* Fact: These children need help. Now.
We are proud to be working with Amachi Pittsburgh to offer a lifeline to a healthy, stable life for children from homes broken by the incarceration of one or both parents.
Amachi’s acclaimed mentoring and other supportive services focus on helping these young people cultivate their strengths and break the cycles of crime and poverty that have trapped their families. In fact, 92 percent of participants avoid involvement with the criminal justice system as juveniles and into adulthood.
One shining example is Kayla Bowyer, director of Amachi Pittsburgh’s Ambassadors program and a product of the organization’s mentoring program. With a parent in jail, an Amachi Pittsburgh mentor offered her long-term guidance and support. She finished high school, completed college, and is now giving back to the program that helped and inspired her during her critical teenage years.
Amachi Pittsburgh wants to build on its successes and expand its reach beyond the 200 children and their families the organization typically serves annually. That’s where Denny Civic Solutions comes in. We are working with Amachi and its partners to secure new funding streams, raise its profile so decision-makers are better aware of its successes with these promising young people, and ultimately, move the needle on policies, programs, and funding for this at-risk population.
In March, the House Human Resources Committee will hold a hearing and see firsthand how Amachi Pittsburgh serves children in Allegheny County who have a parent behind bars. They come from the area’s toughest neighborhoods, and have not had access to other programs for vulnerable youth.
Amachi Pittsburgh’s executive director, Anna Hollis, says she turned to DCS after being a part of our prior work and seeing firsthand how we’ve helped other organizations serving at-risk populations.
“I was impressed by the passion, the understanding of the issues, and the commitment of John Denny and his team to help our region’s most vulnerable children and families,” Hollis said. “They are helping us open new doors, and find new allies so that we can take our work to the next level for these deserving children.”
DCS Partner Stephen Drachler, who is being aided by our newest strategic partner, Donna Malpezzi, former General Counsel to the PA Senate Majority Caucus, is leading the Amachi Pittsburgh project. Donna’s encyclopedic knowledge of state government and her understanding of human services programming are giving us invaluable insight as we work to help Amachi Pittsburgh find ways to further increase its impact on our community.