CHILDREN & YOUTH PROGRAMS
Parental incarceration is now recognized as an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE); it is distinguished from other adverse childhood experiences by the unique combination of trauma, shame, and stigma. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
How do you explain to a ten-year-old child that your father or mother is not coming home because they are going to jail? Can you image the confusion and fear a child must feel after receiving this type of news? There is nothing more devastating for a child than experiencing the sudden loss of a parent. At A Better Day Than Yesterday Association (A Better Day), we recognized the need for effective children and youth programs to reduce the harm connected with having an incarcerated parent.
According to a study published in 2015 by Child Trends, some 5 million children, or roughly 7 percent of all children living in the U.S., have a parent who is currently or previously incarcerated. Our children and youth programs focus directly on meeting the needs of children during the time their parents are in incarcerated. Our goal is to reduce the pain and stigma experienced by children, improve communications between the child and the incarcerated parent(s), and make visitation with the incarcerated parent more child-friendly and less traumatic.
Our Child Advocacy program provides a safe, child-friendly environment for children to speak with a trained professional about their struggles in dealing with an incarcerated parent. The main goal of our Child Advocacy program is to uplift the voice of youth participants. We empower children to ‘speak out’ on their behalf and assist children as well as youth in finding their internal power and teaching them how to use their power effectively. At A Better Day, we promote and influence change.
Children whose parents are incarcerated are five to six times more likely to be incarcerated than are their peers. They are inadvertent victims of their parents’ crimes and many find themselves deprived emotionally, socially, and financially—particularly when a parent is incarcerated. (Oregon Department of Corrections)
We promote the health and well-being of the children of incarcerated parents through group therapy. This service is available to families who have limited economic means. Our group therapy services are offered once a month on the third (3rd) Saturday of every month from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. This intense 2-hour session is guided by A Better Day team member, social worker, and parent coach. Children and youth must be between the age of 5 – 19 to participate in this program.
A BETTER DAY VISITATION
Incarcerated parents have the right to be involved in their children’s lives as long as the parental rights of the incarcerated parent have not been terminated. Also, children have the right to have a relationship or maintain a connection with their incarcerated parent. At A Better Day, we help families address their unique challenges and issues so both the parents and children can maintain a healthy relationship. A Better Day visitation program offers the necessary support needed to keep
the lines of communication open between the incarcerated parent and their children. We organize in-person visitation to help maintain a positive parent and child relationship. We assist in creating a visitation plan to ensure a smooth encounter with the child and the incarcerated parent.
PREPARE A CHILD FOR A VISIT
Before you make your first visit, it is a good idea to prepare to ensure a successful first visit. We have prepared some tips to help you prepare yourself and your child(ren).
1 Bernstein, N., All Alone in the World, Children of the Incarcerate, 2005
2 The Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew Center on the States. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC. 2010
3 The Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew Center on the States. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC. 2010
4 Mauer, M., Nellis, A., Schirmir, S.; Incarcerated Parents and Their Children-Trends 1991 - 2007, The Sentencing Project, Feb. 2009
5 Travis Jeremy, Elizabeth McBride, and Amy Solomon. Urban Institute Justice Policy Center. Families Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry, 2005.
The growing number of children with an incarcerated parent represents one of the most significant collateral
consequences of the record prison population in the U.S. (1)
More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent. That is 1 in 28 children. (2)
One in 9 African American children (11.4%), 1 in 28 Hispanic children (3.5%), and 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) in the United States have an incarcerated parent. (3)
Approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are under ten years old. (4)
Children between the ages of 7-10 may experience developmental regressions, poor self-concept, acute traumatic stress reactions, and impaired ability to overcome future trauma. Children from ages 11-14 may experience rejection on limits of behavior and trauma-reactive behaviors. Children from the ages of 15-18 may experience a premature termination of dependency relationship with parent, and it may lead them to intergenerational crime and incarceration. (5)
JOIN OUR PROGRAM
Are you in need of our children and youth services? We want to help you and your family during this difficult time in your life. We are committed to providing you with the necessary resources and support required to strengthen your family and help your child cope with the temporary loss of a parent.