Foster Care

JS Blog Post May 10, 2017

Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States: What We Know and What We Still Need to Learn

Megan Sullivan

By: Megan Sullivan*

This is the first of a three-part series on children of incarcerated parents. My thanks to Justice Strategies for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this series.

I come to the topic of children with incarcerated parents from several vantage points. First, I was ten years old when my father was arrested and received a two-to-five-year sentence for larceny. I know firsthand that while the relationship between a parent’s incarceration and a child’s outcomes is not obvious or proscriptive, there are important reasons to pay attention to this relationship. Read more »

JS Blog Post March 28, 2017

Grasping at the Root: A young father's path to incarceration.

Lillian M. Hewko

This is the first in a series of blog posts on fatherhood* and incarceration by Justice Strategies featuring Daniel Loera, a 21-year-old father of a 4-year-old daughter, currently serving time at Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington State. Daniel is navigating both the prison and child welfare systems in an attempt to maintain his parental rights.

Daniel was 16 when he committed the crime of assault. Along with a cousin, and under the influence of drugs, he followed two strangers outside of a Walmart to rob them. Daniel beat the young man he had followed with the butt of a gun and then fled the scene in his cousin’s car, only to be picked up two blocks away and then identified in a lineup. He was automatically charged as an adult, sentenced to 7.75 years of prison and 3 years of community custody.

When I sit across from Daniel, I can hardly imagine the young man described in the police report. When asked about his young self, Daniel says: Read more »

JS Blog Post February 26, 2015

Garnering Support for Policy Change: Family Impact Statement

Allison Hollihan, Program Manager, Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents

This blog focuses on the needs of children and how Family Impact Statements (FIS) can ensure that the needs of children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system are considered when important criminal justice decisions are made; it’s a story of progress and ongoing work to be done. A Family Impact Statement contains information about a defendant’s minor children and parenting responsibilities and describes how various sentencing options might affect these. When public safety is not compromised, FIS may support an alternative to incarceration or a shorter sentence length to minimize collateral consequences. However, FIS are not commonly used and garnering support for policy and practice change can be challenging. Here, we share how the Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents collaborated with New York State (NYS) probation professionals to encourage the inclusion of FIS in pre-sentencing investigation reports for the courts. Ultimately, we rebranded FIS as a Family Responsibility Statement (FRS) to garner the support needed to encourage the inclusion of information about a defendant’s children and parenting responsibilities in pre-sentence investigation reports developed by probation officers in New York State. Read more »

JS Blog Post January 12, 2015

Second post - Hill Briefing on Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the USA - Wednesday, September 4, 2014, Washington, D.C.

Patricia Allard

Charles Dalton Telschow performed a moving spoken word piece on September 4, 2014 during the Hill Briefing about prioritizing the needs of children of incarcerated parents. This original piece speaks volumes about the devastating impact of mass incarceration. Stay tuned for more presentations.
 

JS Blog Post January 6, 2015

Hewing a Stone of Hope Out of a Mountain of Despair: The Children of Incarcerated Parents’ Bill of Rights

Gail Smith

“The children of prisoners are guaranteed nothing. They have committed no crime, but the penalty they are required to pay is steep. They forfeit, too often, much of what matters to them: their homes, their safety, their public status and private self-image, their primary source of comfort and affection. Their lives and prospects are profoundly affected by the multiple institutions that lay claim to their parents—police, courts, jails and prisons, probation and parole—but they have no rights, explicit or implicit, within any of these jurisdictions.” – San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership

An estimated 2.7 million children nationwide are left behind by having at least one parent in jail or prison. In 2003, the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (SFCIPP) developed a Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, based on the experiences of children. Nell Bernstein, with her groundbreaking book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, helped to launch this initiative. In 2005 they deepened the blueprint by launching the Rights to Realities Initiative, outlining steps toward implementation.  In case you are not familiar with them, here are the eight rights: Read more »

JS Blog Post December 10, 2014

Hill Briefing on Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States -Wednesday, September 3 from 11-12:30pm in RM 2253 Rayburn Building

Patricia Allard

We're please to bring you a series of 5 video-blog posts from a Hill Briefing - Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States - held in the fall of 2014. The briefing was designed to explore how the family integrity needs of children can be addressed at their parent's sentencing hearing. In this post Pamela Clifton, Communications Coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, discusses the damaged the criminal justice system brought in her life and the lives of her children, and how her situation and that of many others could be better addressed without the use of prison terms.

JS Blog Post November 14, 2014

Why Mother-Child Alternatives to Incarceration Are Vital

Gail Smith

Have you ever seen a toddler suddenly separated from the mother? A tiny tot, whose mother set her down for a moment, put her arms around the legs of a nearby shopper in a crowded store, only to look up and realize she had the wrong woman. Panic quickly set in; the reaction was not only “Where’s my mom?” but a piercing wail that said, “I’m gonna die!” The mom quickly picked up her child, who was soon soothed. The cause of that panic is based in one of our most basic human experiences: bonding and attachment.

Every baby needs at least one solid attachment that they can count on. Attachment takes place through a stress and stress-reduction cycle. Babies get hungry and they let us know by crying. The primary caregiver, usually the mother, feeds the baby and the baby learns to trust that the mom will be there to provide sustenance and comfort. Without someone there to feed them reliably, babies in fact would die. This first experience of learning to trust someone forms the basis for all of our later relationships, our sense of self, and our capacity to function in the world without undue anxiety. Mother-child bonding is most critical in the first six months of a baby’s life, and continues until the child is about age six. Read more »

JS Blog Post October 21, 2014

A Child’s Voice: Her Own Words

Ashleigh Clifton

Ashleigh's mom arrested on a drug charge and was sent to prison while Ashleigh was at school. At the time of writing her story for the Colorado Justice Report, Ashleigh was15:

I was sitting in my 2nd grade music class when the school principle showed up in the doorway to take me out of class. As I got up to leave, my friends did the whole "ooh, you're going to get in trouble", type of thing that normal 2nd graders do. I remember turning to them and telling them to "shut-up", but if I knew it was the last time I would see any of them, I probably would have said something more intelligent. As I walked down the hallway to her office, the principle kept saying things like "never give up, no matter what" and "you can do anything you set your mind to". I just kind of looked at her and nodded my head every once in awhile. Waiting in the principal's office was a Larimer County social worker. When we came into the office, she stood up and simply said, "Hi Ashleigh, I am here to take you across town to pick up your brother and then we're going to go for a little ride." Just like that my whole life changed into something from a scary movie. Only now, I couldn't push the "STOP" or "PAUSE" button. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 28, 2014

Children of Incarcerated Parents and Psychotropic Medications

Stephanie Franklin, Esq.

Drugging foster children with mind-altering drugs called psychotropics, is a common practice.  It has gotten so outrageous in the last 10 years that it has garnered national media coverage and the U.S. government’s attention.  Because of this, the government has held congressional hearings, hosted conferences and convenings, and enacted legislation to remedy the issue.  Grassroots advocates, activists, parents, and foster parents saw this widespread increase in the use of psychotropic medication on foster children and pushed for the government to deal with this issue. Working on the ground, with people, directly, is powerful!  It keeps you connected to the people that matter and focused on conquering and eliminating injustices that permeate the lives of marginalized populations.  I bring this issue to your attention because it highlights and underscores the vulnerability that children of incarcerated parents face – trauma and possible, over-medication of psychotropic drugs. Read more »

JS Blog Post August 25, 2014

Hill Briefing on Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States -Wednesday, September 3 from 11-12:30pm in RM 2253 Rayburn Building, Washington, D.C.

Patricia Allard

Hill Briefing

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson Hosts

Prioritizing the Needs of Children of Incarcerated Parents in the United States

 

“When my mother was sentenced, I felt that I was sentenced. . . She was sentenced to prison – to be away from her kids and her family.  I was sentenced, as a child, to be without my mother.”

- Antoinette, an adult, who was 8 years old when her mother was incarcerated[1]

When: On Wednesday, September 3, 2014 from 11-12:30pm

Where: Rayburn Building Room 2253

What: Please join Justice Strategies to examine how Congress can foster family integrity by offering alternatives to incarceration for parents convicted of non-violent drug or drug-related offences. Read more »

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