The Adoption and Safe Family Act (ASFA)

JS Blog Post December 5, 2018

Marshall Project Sheds Light on “How incarcerated parents are losing their children forever.”

Riley Hewko, Esq.

The Marshall Project released an article on December 2, 2018 titled “How Incarcerated Parents Are Losing Their Children Forever.” The article leads with a hidden fact about our “child protective services” when it comes to incarcerated parents: Read more »

JS Blog Post October 27, 2018

The Family First Prevention Services Act Offers Support for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Riley Hewko, Esq.

Last spring, groundbreaking legislation, The Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”), was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act allowing states to use federal funding to help keep families together and avoid out of home foster care placement entirely. Specifically, the legislation changes the way that Title IV-E funds can be spent by states by allowing funds to be used for prevention services that help keep kids at home or with their relatives. Prevention services include for example, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services, in-home skill-based parenting programs, foster care maintenance payments for children with parents in residential family-based substance abuse treatment facilities, and payments for kinship navigator programs.

JS Blog Post October 15, 2018

Policy Brief: Helping Children of Incarcerated Parents & Children in Foster Care Calls for Alternative Sentencing and Keeping Kids at Home

Riley Hewko, Esq.

We know parental incarceration often leads to additional challenges for already disadvantaged and under-resourced families. However, it may also lead to the complete and permanent loss of the parent-child relationship. When parents go away to prison, other parents, caregivers, and/or family members must step in to provide support. If these parents do not have another parent or family who can step in, many of these children will end up in the foster care system. Based on numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a majority of parents in state prisons have been in for 12 to 59 months and had 12 to 50 months left to serve. This time served is significantly more than the child welfare timeline allows and may lead to the permanent separation of families involved in the child welfare system. Read more »

JS Blog Post November 8, 2017

Reflections from an Incarcerated Dad

Lill M. Hewko

Nationally it is estimated that the number of kids who have had a parent in jail or prison at some point hovers around a conservative estimate of 5.1 million. For children with a parent in jail or prison, distance, cost, visitation restrictions, family conflict, and legal barriers can make it difficult for children to remain in contact with their parent. They may even lose that connection permanently as the Adoption and Safe Families Act is an even larger barrier for parents who are incarcerated. A young parent I work with, Daniel Loera, describes the importance of his daughter in his life,  as well as his young-adult insight regarding his own path to prison, his resilience, and his efforts to honor his family and find healthy community outside of gangs: Read more »

JS Blog Post September 5, 2017

Sentenced to Lose: A Message from a Young Incarcerated Father

Lill M. Hewko and Daniel Loera

Read more »

JS Blog Post May 26, 2017

A Local Response to the White House: Denver Passes Jail Sentencing Reform & Aims to Help Immigrants, Families and Our Communities

Lillian M. Hewko, J.D.

Just this week, on May 22nd Denver City Council approved a comprehensive bill that reforms sentencing ranges for low level infractions and in doing so will protect immigrants from deportation. As many people sentenced to jail-time are parents, such changes will largely affect children of incarcerated parents by mitigating the negative emotional and behavioral outcomes caused by separation. The changes can also help avoid unnecessary separation and termination of parental rights for those involved in the child welfare system or in family law custody cases. In 2009 alone, more than 14,000 children entered foster care due at least partly due to the incarceration of a parent

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s office proposed the ordinance and stated: 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 July 16, 2015

Let Our Families Have a Future: A mother's story #2

Theresa Martinez

In this video, Theresa discusses the impact that familial seperartion has had on her daughter's well-being. Theresa's incarceration resulted in years of seperation from her daughter who was forced to live a challenging existence in the foster care system. Theresa also discusses how children of color in foster care - who miss their parents so much - are over-medicated in an effort to make them more manageable. Please view Theresa's second blog post

 

 

 

JS Blog Post June 30, 2015

Let Our Families Have a Future: A mother's story #1

Theresa Martinez
In this, the first of a four part video series, Theresa Martinez of Justice Now relates the story of her twenty-three years of incarceration in both youth and adult facilities, and her separation from her daughter. Listen in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPehSdIt9Tw
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 »

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