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Listening Session with Youth Who Have or Have Had Incarcerated Parents

Listening Session

On June 28-29, 2016, a diverse group of youth from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for a listening session to discuss their experiences as children of incarcerated parents. These youth came together to share about their unique needs, observations, and suggestions for how to improve services and programs designed for them and other youth with incarcerated parents.

On day one of the listening session, the 19 young people from different backgrounds and with varying experiences shared their thoughts with each other during a day of facilitated small group discussion. On day two, they presented their ideas for how to improve the supports and systems that affect youth and families of the incarcerated in front of an audience from Federal departments and agencies. Topics included:

  • Challenges and successes with available services;
  • Communicating, visiting, and maintaining a relationship with their incarcerated parent; and
  • Preparing for their parent’s reentry to the family and community.

The purpose of these discussions was to learn more about the effects of parental incarceration on children, youth, and families. The themes that emerged will contribute to the understanding of the needs of children with incarcerated parents and their families and will help inform future work regarding policies and procedures contributing to positive outcomes for children (inclusive of children, youth, and young adults) with an incarcerated parent. Participants’ ideas and feedback from the session were used to inform two tip sheets and a video:

  1. Tip Sheet for Youth: Youth Supporting Fellow Youth Who Have an Incarcerated Parent
    This tip sheet was written by youth who have an incarcerated parent for youth who have an incarcerated parent. It shares information that young people wish they had told them when their parent was first involved in the criminal justice system.
  2. Tip Sheet for Providers: Supporting Children Who Have an Incarcerated Parent
    This tip sheet is meant for community-based organizations that reach children and youth who may have incarcerated parents. It gives practical information about how these youth want to be supported.
  3. In their Words: 4 Young People Share Experiences with Having an Incarcerated Parent
    This video shares the stories of four young women who are dealing with having a parent behind bars.

Participants from the Video Vignettes






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