Press Release 11/1/2023 Study Confirms Mentoring Makes a Significant Difference in Youth Experiencing the Loss of a Parent to Incarceration
November 1, 2023


Contact: Julie Barschow
Chief Development and Communications Officer
November 1, 2023           Phone:  512-442-6373

Study Confirms Mentoring Makes a Significant Difference in Youth Experiencing the Loss of a Parent to Incarceration

Austin, TXSeedling, a nonprofit organization providing school-based mentoring for children impacted by parental incarceration, recently released its annual program evaluation showing that children who had access to a Seedling mentor had strong social, emotional and school-based outcomes, putting them on or above level with similar students who do not have an incarcerated parent. These results provide further proof that Seedling’s mentoring program mitigates the impact of parental incarceration for children in the program.

Having an incarcerated parent is nationally considered one of ten Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  ACEs can undermine a child’s sense of safety, bonding and stability. This can result in serious academic and behavioral problems preventing a child from receiving the full benefits of education.  Seedling’s mentoring program began in the 2005-06 school year at the request of Austin ISD principals and administrators. 

Seedling has released its independent program evaluation conducted by Dr. Karen Looby, an Austin-based researcher and program evaluator with more than 30 years of experience in public education.  The 2022-23 program evaluation revealed positive outcomes for children in several categories including personal development skills, persistence, school engagement, disciplinary referrals, and attendance. The results show that students who met with a Seedling mentor had significantly higher positive outcomes than students who did not meet with their mentor. 84% of mentees had positive outcomes in at least three of the five markers of program success: school engagement; personal development skills; persistence; attendance; and disciplinary outcomes. 

“Children impacted by parental incarceration encounter unique, heightened challenges not encountered by any other population of children. To see such positive results is a credit to the collaboration between Seedling and local partnering school districts. The results for our mentees are remarkable,” said Dan Leal, Chief Executive Officer.

In the 2022-23 school year, Seedling provided mentors for 501 children. 73% of the children were identified as “at risk” by school districts, before being identified as a child impacted by parental incarceration.  Seedling’s average match length is 2 years, 2 months. This is more than double the national average of 12 months.

About Seedling: Since 2006, Seedling has provided school-based mentoring for children impacted by parental incarceration. During the 2022-23 school year, Seedling provided mentoring for 501 children in more than 130 Central Texas schools, including Austin Achieve Public Schools, Austin IShttps://www.seedlingmentors.orgD, Del Valle ISD, and Hays CISD. Each year, Seedling also awards scholarships of up to $8,000 to 8th grade students to use toward their post-secondary education.

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