On June 12, just before Father’s Day, the White House hosted a Champions of Change event honoring 12 individuals who have dedicated themselves to supporting children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers. Some of these children and caregivers attended the festivities, and so did some Muppets!
Perhaps the most exciting part of the event was the announcement of a new partnership with Sesame Workshop (a nonprofit, educational organization) to reach young children of incarcerated parents. Sesame Workshop’s newest initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, provides free, bilingual (English/Spanish), multimedia tools for families with young children (ages 3 to 8) who have an incarcerated parent. The tools include a guide for parents and caregivers, a children’s storybook, Sesame Street videos, a tip sheet, and the Sesame Street: Incarceration mobile app, all at SesameStreet.org/Incarceration.
Also at the event, the Administration released a fact sheet on its efforts to support children of incarcerated parents. It describes White House efforts to partner across the federal government to identify opportunities to support these children and their caregivers. The partnership produced a toolkit for child welfare and federal corrections professionals to ease coordination among child welfare agencies, federal prisons, and residential reentry centers, so incarcerated parents can stay engaged in their children’s lives or work toward reunification.
The group also produced Children of Incarcerated Parents Myth Busters to support efforts to help children of incarcerated parents, and launched a Web Portal. The portal consolidates information on federal resources, grant opportunities, best and promising practices, and government initiatives that support children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.
I encourage child support professionals and stakeholders in the child support program to publicize all of these meaningful materials.
The Family Room Blog on the Administration for Children and Families website talks more about the event and the materials.
Why are we involved?
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of 18 had a parent in prison as of 2007—an increase of almost 80 percent since 1991. The majority of federal and state prisoners are parents, and about half of incarcerated parents have support orders. Many child support agencies have prison and jail outreach programs to work with incarcerated parents.
OCSE is involved in several projects to assist the incarcerated population, including the Federal Interagency Reentry Council.
Is your agency involved in a project to help engage incarcerated parents with the child support process and with their children? Please submit a comment on this blog.