BUDDY stands for Building Unique, Dynamic & Diverse Youth.

What it is: LICADD’s BUDDY program is highly structured, carefully managed program in which children are appropriately matched with screened and trained adult volunteers who meet one-on-one with the children on a regular basis to provide guidance and support with the goal of establishing a trusting relationship between each child and a caring adult mentor that lasts for no less than one year, and hopefully for a lifetime.

The program currently matches close to 50 adult mentors to a child of an incarcerated parent or close relative, or “mentee,” who lives in Nassau and/or Suffolk County.

Why it is Needed: Children of incarcerated parents often experience fear, anger, sadness, loneliness, abandonment, embarrassment, guilt, resentment, isolation and emotional withdrawal from family and friends. Family instability, trauma linked to witnessing the parent’s arrest, incarceration and/or criminal activities and uncertainty about the future challenge even the most resilient children. Without assistance, many of these children are at increased risk for poor academic performance, drug and alcohol abuse, unsafe sexual behaviors, and juvenile justice or criminal justice system involvement.

Our main goal is to break the cycle and ensure that Long Island’s most at-risk kids get the help they need to be successful.

How it Works: Youth participating in LICADD’s BUDDY Program will experience new, predictable, attached and sustained relationships with their mentors. They’ll participate in activities that build competence and confidence. Youth, their caretakers and families will also gain enhanced access to a wide variety of professionally delivered health, mental health, social and financial services designed to enhance their quality of life and sense of well-being.

How You Can Help: The BUDDY Program was initially funded by the federal Administration for Children and Families, but now solely relies on donations and fundraisers. All of our mentors volunteer their time to mentor a young person. If you have four hours a month to mentor a young person between the ages of 4-18, please call Lauren Ventimiglia, LMSW at 516-747-2606 for more information and an application.

Links of interest:

Newsday article about the BUDDY Program