The Amachi Central Kentucky initiative has been part of the Lexington LF since 2004. The national Amachi mentoring program was created in 2000 to serve children of incarcerated parents. This program operates under the premise that all children are filled with untapped potential and that a successful mentoring program can give at-risk youth the support they need to realize their potential as adults. The legal reasons for incarceration will vary, but for many families in the LLF program, issues related to drug and alcohol misuse have historically played a role in why a child’s loved one has gone to prison.
Central Kentucky is a college town, with the University of Kentucky nearby, and many of the LFF’s mentors are young and enthusiastic college students. The mentoring program currently has 140 children enrolled, ranging in age from 6 to 16 years old. As with most mentoring programs, the need extends beyond the number of mentors, so roughly 60 to 70 children are on the waiting list for being matched with a mentor.
LLF has strong relationships with local school districts and individual schools. The group works with schools, community mental health agencies, and families to recruit mentees into the program. When social workers, teachers, and other professional family resources become aware of a child impacted by the incarceration of a loved one and who may benefit from LLF’s mentoring program, the caregiver is provided with information about the program and encouraged to complete an application for the child to join the program.
LLF uses a one-on-one friendship mentoring model and encourages matches to spend about an hour a week together. The organization owns and operates a community center where matches can meet after school and on weekends, and can use the kitchen, do homework, play games, do art projects, and use the gym. Mentors are encouraged to pursue active service projects in the community with their mentees. LFF also plans quarterly and monthly events and service projects for matches to do together.