HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Nearly 7 million adults in the U.S. have an immediate family member behind bars. Extended Family is a community based nonprofit system making a difference in the lives of families of incarcerated people.
Extended Family Executive Director Laure Clemons said by 2014, they were able to start Extended Family for Kids in every school in Cherokee County, Alabama. "We started Extended Family for Kids in Georgia because they asked us to come over and start it there. We have since expanded. We are offering Extended Family for Kids in four Juvenile Diversion Facilities, and we are also in select schools in Etowah and Calhoun County, and we are looking at the other surrounding counties."
Clemons explained that most of the EFK lessons are focused on grades spanning K-12. "We have lessons on stress busters, how to deal with your anger," said Clemons. "Some of our kids have seen their loved ones arrested, and now they're afraid of law enforcement. So in our lesson, our kids get to write questions for a police officer [who then] come[s] in and answers [their] questions."
The organization has also created the Extended Leadership Academy, which helps students prepare for life beyond graduation. "The need has never gone away. What we are doing is we're helping children of the incarcerated create an identity, in contrast," Clemons said.
Extended Family is on a continued search for volunteers, program leaders, and donors. You can find more information about their needs and services throughout Alabama at their website.