KidsPeace Announces TeenCentral.Net Grant to Fund New Mentoring Program for Military Families

KidsPeace has received a $570,000 grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Department of Defense to provide mentoring and support to children and teens whose parent(s) are deployed in the US Military. This program will be offered through TeenCentral.Net and ParentCentral.Net to allow parents and kids to openly and anonymously discuss their fears, emotional struggles and insecurities about deployment of a parent and to understand that they are not alone and that many caring professionals and peers are there for them and willing to help them.

TeenCentral.Net (TC.N) is a website launched in 1998 by KidsPeace to help teens with their problems, concerns and issues. It is free, anonymous and safe. Receiving between 1.5 and 2 million hits per month, TeenCentral.Net has registered more than 479,000 young people as members since its inception. The site, designed and maintained by KidsPeace youth psychology and counseling experts, provides responses to teens within 24 hours and enables them to post stories about their experiences and share responses to stories in a "peer mentoring" atmosphere. No stories are posted before being reviewed and approved by a Master’s or Doctorate level Clinician.

ParentCentral.Net (PC.N) is structured similarly for parents and provides counseling, peer mentoring and valuable information to parents seeking advice. These free sites do not accept advertising. The two sites are directed by Dr. Julius Licata, who will lead this new program.

"KidsPeace is extremely honored to be selected as a recipient of this critical funding for our efforts to support the children of our military," KidsPeace President and CEO Will Isemann said. He announced that the grant will fund new sub-sections of the two websites -- TeenCentral.Net and ParentCentral.Net -- to establish the e-mentoring program (with components of team mentoring and group mentoring) for youth of military families and their parents. The initiative will address the emotional needs of youth whose parents are deployed and provide platforms for youth and their parents to openly communicate with e-mentors and with each other in an effort to mitigate emotional struggles and avoid juvenile justice behaviors related to a parent's deployment.

The Reason for the Grant

There are nearly 1.5 million active duty U.S. soldiers, an additional 850,000 in reserves and approximately 1.2 million children of military personnel. Children in military families experience emotional and behavioral difficulties and symptoms of anxiety above national averages. Unfortunately, the needs of teenagers whose parents are in the military and/or deployed often go unrecognized.

"Children in military families experience unique challenges that other children may never face, such as dealing with their deployed parents' extended absence and anxiety over their safe return," said Jeff Slowikowski, OJJDP Acting Administrator, in announcing the awards in Washington, DC. "Military families will now have a listening ear and caring support during a difficult time in their lives."

The award is in the form of a three-year grant. Work on the new sub-sites is expected to begin soon, with some components completed by late 2012.