Extended Family for Kids (EFK) and Extended Leadership Academy (ELA) programs are designed to equip school-aged children with the coping mechanisms and life skills they need to be successful.  Each Lesson is carefully constructed to provide the most valuable information possible to benefit each student.  Extended Family staff members work to bring the information to the students each week, with the support of a host of other caring adults who work together to enrich the lives of Our Kids.

First, our work would not be possible without the generous support of civic, community, and private donations to fund our programs.  These local monetary contributions supplement the funds we receive from grants and help in so many ways.  We could not serve the students who need our programs without funding, and we are grateful for our donors every day.

One important element of the success of Extended Family programs is that we meet with children during the regular school day.  This simple detail enables students to participate without the barriers of transportation or added hardship to their caregivers.  School administrators, counselors, and other support staff all work together to identify students for the programs, provide a designated space for the group to meet each week, and help prepare a schedule that allows students to participate without risk to their academic success.

Various Lessons rely on the help of outside community leaders to be effective for Our Kids.  One of the most popular EFK Lessons is “Cops!” and allows children to meet and interact with a law enforcement officer in a way that is non-threatening.  This Lesson serves to dispel the myths and fears children have about law enforcement by allowing them to get to know the person behind the badge.

Many volunteers from the community assist Extended Family Program Leaders in providing Lessons to our groups.  Some volunteers attend multiple sessions and help take attendance, hand out folders, and provide extra attention to the children who need it.  Other volunteers come from the community and share their experiences in their work and life, detailing for students the steps they have taken to achieve their goals and dreams.  We have been very fortunate through the years to be able to find volunteers who meet the students’ interests, whether a judge, a coach, a business owner, or a video game developer!

All of us, Extended Family staff, donors, school officials, law enforcement, volunteers, and community leaders, come together to reach Our Kids, to break the cycle of incarceration in families, to prevent children from entering the juvenile justice system, and to instill in each child the message, “You matter.”  To become involved in this fulfilling work, or for more information about Extended Family and our programs, visit our website, www.extendedfamilyhelp.org.

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