Published on October 16, 2015
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Cornerstone Kids program was named an Angel of Change by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) Foundation and received a $50,000 grant for providing a mentorship program for Louisiana’s children of incarcerated parents. Having a parent in prison can negatively impact a child’s quality of life and increases the child’s probability of being incarcerated themselves later in life. Cornerstone Kids provides these children with someone who will care for them and model and promote positive behavior.
“When someone goes to jail, the whole family is incarcerated,” says Ronnie Moore, director of the Cornerstone Builders program under which Cornerstone Kids is housed. “These are the forgotten children whose needs are overlooked.”
Families of the incarcerated are also oftentimes poor, and sending their breadwinner to jail increases their economic burden. These children are most in need of a mentor to help them cope with these challenges.
“Cornerstone Kids is truly an Angel of Change in the community that the Foundation is proud to support,” says Michael Tipton, BCBSLA Foundation president. “Our grant panel believed this mentoring effort is a smart and innovative approach to positively impact the well-being Louisiana’s children who are adversely affected by incarceration by supplementing their development with a positive influence.”
The mentoring program is open to children aged 5 to 17 with at least one incarcerated parent. Mentors and mentees spend time together through one-on-one activities and group meetings. Mentors provide support and encouragement that promotes trust, confidence, enthusiasm, personal growth and positive thinking. In the last fiscal year, 31 children were served through this program, and volunteers gave close to 730 hours of their time.
“Being recognized as a community advocate by BCBSLA is an honor,” Moore reflects. “We hope this support raises awareness of the hidden costs of incarceration on children and the need to support these families.”
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is presenting Angels of Change grants to twenty innovative programs affiliated with previous Angel Award winners that addresses the root causes of child well-being through integrated changes in policies, norms, practices, social supports and the physical environment. The Angel of Change Awards were presented this year to honor the 20th anniversary of The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation’s Angel Awards.