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Raising Children with Parents in Prison For the Parent left behind with children AND for the Children that have a parent inside. Discussion of unique challenges facing this group!

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Old 01-01-2018, 07:52 PM
Kushiel'sChosen Kushiel'sChosen is offline
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Default What would be helpful for kids/youth w/incarcerated parents?

Hi all,

My colleague and I are in the early stages of starting a non-profit designed to serve kids/youth with incarcerated parents. This forum was such a helpful resource for me when my friend was incarcerated a few years ago, and it is this community that first got me thinking about helping kids with parents on the inside. If you are interested in sharing, I would really appreciate hearing what sort of work we could do to serve your family. What sort of programming would you find helpful? What resources would you like to see? Some ideas we have had so far:
  • Counseling (individual or group)
  • Group activities/recreation/play (meeting other kids with similar experiences)
  • Written materials to support you in talking about prison with your kids
  • Support/childcare/activities during prison visits
  • Books/movies/media with representation of kids w/incarcerated parents
  • Community activism (if so, what kind?)

Please feel free to share ideas that are unlike anything on this list, or to share your thoughts on the ideas listed above (if you think one of them is terrible- we want to know!)

(Also, I hope it is okay to post this here. If this should go somewhere else, or doesn't belong on PT at all, please let me know and I'll remove it.)
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:25 PM
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miamac miamac is online now
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I'm guessing you're familiar with the Sesame Street toolkit to help families talk about incarceration, but just in case that's a no...you can find it here. I think it's fantastic.

I can only base my opinions on the relationship my husband has tried to maintain with his sons. They were small when he went in, teenagers now. They have been raised in an environment were incarceration is more than a norm, it's a way of life. So that, sadly, removes some of the initial barriers to introduction. But for them, the biggest challenge was having a way to spend time with their father. Between moving him to facilities far away and the cost of phone calls, their mother just couldn't keep up.

In their case, I think having workshops that encouraged them to communicate-- providing materials, writing prompts or the ability to send a photo would have been huge. The support in their home just wasn't there or wasn't there consistently. When money was tight, dad faded into the background. If there had been a day they could get together with other kids and feel supported in creating communication, I think they all would have benefited.
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