Banner: Children of Incarcerated parents

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Youth Ideas for Change by Profession

Strategies For Legal and Probation Professionals

  • Provide training and on-going supervision that includes:
    • Accurate statistics about children and families of the incarcerated
    • Strategies for respecting family relationships and circumstances
    • Understanding self-awareness and bias
    • Skills for building trust
    • Strategies for helping children and their parents and caregivers communicate about difficult topics
  • Design programs that train older children of incarcerated parents to be mentors for younger children of incarcerated parents
  • Offer transportation options and coordination to help youth get to visit their incarcerated parent
  • Offer family counseling and guidance to youth and their incarcerated parents (this is especially important given the limited opportunity and time for calls and visits)
  • Provide relevant and age appropriate guidance on the entire incarceration experience from arrest to reentry including:
    • What families and the incarcerated parent can expect at each stage in the process
    • Help finding job training
    • Help finding stable housing
  • Offer safe, comfortable ways for youth to share what is happening in their lives, understanding they may have fear about mandatory reporting rules
  • Provide information and empowerment for coping with the unpredictable nature of managing relationships with caregivers and following correctional policy as we attempt to connect and communicate with our incarcerated parent
  • Corrections staff should receive training that emphasizes:
    • That visits are supposed to be a positive experience for families
    • That respectful treatment and interactions with the family and the incarcerated parent are what is expected by children of incarcerated parents
  • When possible given safety and security considerations, courts should sentence and correctional agencies should place incarcerated parents at facilities close to their children and families, as closer proximity increases the chances for opportunities to visit and maintain family relationships
  • Correctional policies and practices should simplify and expedite approval forms when necessary (e.g., when the parent is transferred to a new facility or when names and numbers of potential visitors change)
  • Schools and correctional agencies should collaborate to allow incarcerated parents to participate in school conferences via video or phone when appropriate
  • Use communication methods like posters and post them everywhere
  • Use celebrity spokespeople (e.g. musicians and sports figures) who can contribute to reducing stigma and shame

Additionally, we have identified 11 strategies that apply across all professions:

  • Get to know us: we are not statistics; we are youth who come from different backgrounds and family circumstances
  • See us for who and what we are
  • Know yourself: be aware of the assumptions and biases that you may have about us
  • Let us know we can trust you. Be reliable and predictable. Listen without judgment
  • Respect our right to confidentiality
  • Help us to help each other by providing us with opportunities to gather together
  • Help us channel our emotions into making a positive change through advocacy
  • Honor our inner strength: don’t feel sorry for us
  • Involve youth of incarcerated parents and their families in decisions about programs, policies and practices
  • Agencies should understand the complexities of collaboration with and between other agencies (such as schools and corrections) because of confidentiality requirements
  • Create lists of available resources and make them accessible

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