Extended Family has created our most ambitious schedule yet with plans to lead more than thirty programs beginning in the fall semester of the 2023-2024 school year, with another series of programs planned for the spring.  We will provide Extended Family for Kids (EFK) and Extended Leadership Academy (ELA) in four north Alabama counties, including Cherokee, Etowah, DeKalb, and Calhoun to groups in schools and youth diversion programs.  Hundreds of school-aged children will be positively impacted by lessons designed to build self-esteem, ease feelings of shame, ease isolation, decrease stress, address anger issues, and strengthen communication skills.  EFK is a nine-lesson curriculum that is appropriate for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; ELA is an eighteen-lesson curriculum designed specifically for older students who are preparing for their future after high school.  Extended Family is a community-based, non-profit organization which is funded through grants, local funding, and private donations.

EFK is designed to offer support to children who have any family member who is incarcerated.  Collateral Costs [Pew Charitable Trust report] found that “one in every 28 children in the U.S. has a parent behind bars, up from one in 125 just 25 years ago.”  A significant number of children deal with the struggles of having a loved one incarcerated, and the accompanying hardship and stigma affects their behavior, concentration, schoolwork, and every other aspect of their lives. One of our values is “Children Matter,” and we uphold this value by our commitment to “give every child the opportunity to be involved in Extended Family for Kids, which provides them tools to be successful in every area of life.”  We work with school counselors and other community agencies to identify students who qualify and would benefit from EFK.  ELA was created as a second step toward success program for children who had completed EFK and has recently expanded to include children who are “at-risk” because of other types of family disruption besides having a loved one incarcerated, like divorce or death of a family member.  ELA helps students explore career paths and learn how to make healthy life choices as they plan for their futures.  The entire framework of EFK and ELA lessons are built around the central value that we strive to instill in each individual child, “You matter.”

In addition to our plans to lead EFK and ELA groups, Extended Family also offers training to adults interested in becoming certified EFK Program Leaders.  Through our training and subsequent support, we give potential leaders the skills to share the lessons with the children and offer help and advice as they take EFK back to their communities.  We conduct several trainings throughout the year in communities across Alabama and beyond, building partnerships along the way with the goal of helping as many children and families as possible.

Learn more about the exciting things Extended Family is doing for the families of the incarcerated by visiting us on Facebook, or on our website at www.extendedfamilyhelp.org.

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