National CARES and our Atlanta CARES leadership are thrilled that the Fulton County Solicitor General has selected our Atlanta-based University for Parents (U4P) initiative as a life-transforming alternative to incarceration. This new partnership expands the reach of this innovative work, which we will replicate throughout the nation. It offers men and women arrested for non-violent crimes an opportunity to restore their lives and dignity and to join the workforce. A core challenge for many low-risk offenders after prison is economic sustainability and self-sufficiency, and so regaining financial stability is critical for parents--children's first mentors.
Designed by a team of devoted subject-matter experts, U4P creates a safe and restorative place for parents struggling along the margins. They are unemployed and low-wage earners who want to advance their lives. The U4P curriculum creates a safe space and support without shame or blame, for the parents to reflect and see how their choices and societal forces have shaped their lives. The training is anchored in the community with 40-plus partnering organizations that offer workforce-readiness training and case management without charge to our parent-learners. CARES trained psychologists and social workers deliver our wellness curriculum which unearths the optimism, hope, and courage needed to become critical thinkers making healthy choices.
Extreme poverty is defined by the federal government as yearly household income of $12,129 or less for a family of four with two related children. Three-quarters of our parent group has an annual family income of $10,000 or less. Our training is designed to heal the multiple traumas that are the cause and effects of poverty: a centuries-long history of unfair policies impacting African Americans, joblessness, homelessness, hunger, and living in the midst of unrelenting violence. These elements lead to debilitating traumas, which cause mental and physical illness. They easily cause the vulnerable to lose hope and make life-limiting choices. Today, nearly half (45.8%) of all Black children under the age of six suffer in dream-crushing poverty. It's stunning that one in five children in the U.S. is living with hunger.
This partnership with the Solicitor General returns vulnerable parents to a path of earning family-supporting wages. With dedicated community partners, we provide our parent-learners with the work-readiness training essential for their development as leaders of their families and community. We help parents return to their resilience and acknowledge that they are needed by our community as they exemplify the African-American audacity to endure. This collaboration is a critical link that supports anti-recidivism, directing adults instead to our University for Parents.
The U4P is being designed for replication throughout the nation through our local CARES affiliates in 58 U.S. cities. Morehouse School of Medicine's Satcher Health Institute's Smart and Secure Children Program serves as our lead partner and conducted the research needed to serve parent-learners well. Along with them, educator Brenda Coleman, our Executive Director of Atlanta CARES, is changing lives. Click below to see parent testimonials from two of our parent-learners.