New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents
About the Collaboration
The Osborne Association established the New York (NY) Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents in 2006. The NY Initiative partners with government agencies and community- and faith-based organizations to advance policies and practices that meet the needs and respect the rights of children whose parents are in the criminal justice system.
Through its work, the NY Initiative:
- Brings together diverse professionals and perspectives throughout the State of New York to raise public awareness of the challenges and special considerations of COIP;
- Makes recommendations to reform policies and practices that affect COIP;
- Advocates, develops, and expands effective programs for COIP and their incarcerated parents (both currently and formerly incarcerated parents);
- Supports children as they seek to make, mend, maintain and manage the relationships with their incarcerated parents;
- Coordinates the convening of partners four times a year to sustain and expand the network of people and organizations that work to improve the lives of COIP;
- Collects and disseminates information about developments relevant to children and families affected by incarceration;
- Educates the public and state and local officials about COIP through media outreach and public events; and
- Supports a Youth Action Council, which encourages young people with incarcerated parents (both currently and formerly incarcerated parents) to become leaders and advocates in the movement to transform their rights into realities.
The NY Initiative initially limited its reach to New York City (NYC), where it is based. But after recognizing that city and state issues overlap, the Initiative expanded statewide. For example, children may be located in NYC, but their parents could be housed in any prison across the state. Part of the Initiative’s advocacy work is to encourage the state prison system to assign parents to prisons that are closest in proximity to their children.
To guide its work, the NY Initiative uses the framework from the Children of Incarcerated Parents’ Bill of Rights. The San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership developed this Bill of Rights, with input from youth, in 2005. For example, one right is “I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my parent’s arrest.” This same group also created a Rights to Realities document that outlines specific steps for operationalizing the Bill of Rights (e.g., “develop arrest protocols that support and protect children”).