Banner: Children of Incarcerated parents

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Strategies For Public/Private Community-Based Professionals

  • Build trust with caregivers so we stop worrying about upsetting them if we talk to other adults
  • Work with caregivers to encourage truth telling about the incarceration
  • 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
  • Provide college scholarships for children of the incarcerated or assist us in accessing such scholarships when available
  • 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 help 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
  • Join with youth to create advocacy groups to increase public awareness and promote funding and expansion of services
  • Use communication methods like posters and post them everywhere
  • Advertise on websites frequented by youth (such as Pandora and Facebook)
  • Use celebrity spokespeople (e.g. musicians and sports figures) who can contribute to reducing stigma and shame
  • Have a social media campaign
  • Use public services announcements
  • Have mass assemblies at school (like there are for MADD)1

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

1 Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a nonprofit organization in the United States and Canada that seeks to stop drunk driving.

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