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Help For Incarcerated Parents

The good people over at Sesame Street have resources for parents and children dealing with a parent being incarcerated. Research has shown that positive outcomes can be accomplished during incarceration. Keeping the Parent-Child relationship will have long term positive outcomes for families.

The website for resources to help parents can be found at:

Parents can preview the toolkit on Youtube by searching Sesame Street Incarceration.

Need further evidence of the benefits of keeping parental relationships intact? Here is some research from the Center for Disease Control:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Brain research of the past three decades concludes that a child’s brain is wired for relationship. All future child development cascades from the quality of the first and most important relationship between parent and child. That relationship exists for good or ill in the absence or the presence of the parent. When children are separated from their parent due to incarceration, their lives are greatly affected by the array of systems surrounding the family, including, at times, the child welfare system. It is important that the child not be overlooked and that the systems surrounding the family recognize the significance of the child-parent relationship.

Clearly parental relationships are important for children. Disrupting the relationship can have adverse impacts on childhood development. Many adults have been incarcerated for non-violent crimes in our country. The research clearly shows how common incarceration is for parental relationships. The following facts come from the CDC website:

National statistics paint a broad and staggering picture of families disrupted by the trauma of incarceration:

There are more than 1.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent.
One in 43 (2.3 percent) American children has a parent incarcerated in state or federal prison.
Approximately 10 million—one in eight—of the nation’s children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives.
Twenty-two percent of the children of state inmates and 16 percent of the children of federal inmates are under five years old. The Sentencing Project/Research and Advocacy for Reform, Feb. 2009.

Bravo to Sesame Street for helping with a very complicated subject. Many people lack the proper education to understand this subject. People have responded negatively to Sesame Street's attempt to help children stay connected. Clearly, it is a problem, and having resources can help people understand that children want and need to stay connect to their parents; even when they make a poor choice that leads to incarceration.

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