AFOI's Milk and Cookies Children's Program (2)

"The goal of the MAC program is to provide assistance and support to these children and their caregivers by improving families' access to much needed resources and encouraging their children's school success. Our goal is accomplished through strategies that address both the needs of the children and their caregivers. A core strategy includes support groups in the school that help children better understand and cope with the parent's incarceration. Groups are organized by age and meet regularly for eight weeks and then decelerate to biweekly meetings for the remainder of the school year.

"The MAC staff works proactively with school personnel and community agencies to locate specialized programs and services that will increase children's chances of succeeding. Individualized attention to the caregivers facilitates a better understanding of the needs of their children. Many of the Milk and Cookies caregivers are grandmothers who need supportive services to help them cope with the unexpected responsibilities of raising their grandchildren. The MAC Program also provides assistance with transportation, in-home counseling and support, and advocacy with other service providers. Plans remain underway to initiate a specialized parenting group for the MAC caregivers.

"Today the Milk and Cookies Program operates with two full-time Program Coordinators who are part of an interdisciplinary outreach team housed in each of the school sites. Current school sites include:

Blackwell

Swansboro

Bellemeade

Oak Grove

Summer Hill

Ruffin Road

Woodville Elementary Schools

"The other agencies represented on the team include:

Communities in Schools

Familiy Lifeline

Richmond Community Action Program ,(RCAP)

Americorps

Youth Day Treatment

The Micah Initiative

Richmond Behavioral Health Authority

Many More

"Each of these agencies focuses their primary service on specific needs or risk factors, but work cooperatively with each other to share resources and promote a full menu of services. Weekly team meetings allow members to obtain input of individual service plans, plan joint programs, and communicate with school staff, administration and representatives."

As you can see, the MAC Program is a philanthropic program among the best of them. Often we think of prisoners as being the most disenfranchised group in American society. But this is not the case. The truth of the matter is that the children who are left behind when a parent goes to prison are the worst off. AFOI's MAC Program does what it can, and what is right, by these innocent victims of America's incarceration craze.