November 9: Explaining Jail & Prison to Children with Incarcerated Loved Ones

Pre-Registration is REQUIRED for this event. Click to Register All the details such as location etc… are included. The Chicago Childcare Collective is generously providing child care support at the event.

Image & Design by Micah Bazant

Image & Design by Micah Bazant

In 2010, the Pew Research Center found that 1.2 million incarcerated people had children under 18 years old. As a result, there are 2.7 million minor children who have a parent in jail or prison. In other words, 1-in-28 American children (3.6%) have an incarcerated parent. Just 25 years ago, the number was 1-in-125. About 1 in 9 black children have an incarcerated parent and more than 14,000 children of the incarcerated enter foster care each year.

A report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the number of parents held in state and federal prisons increased by 79% between 1991 and midyear 2007. And half of the mothers (52%) and fathers (54%) in state prison reported that they were the primary provider for their children before their incarceration. Read more about the challenges facing children with an incarcerated parent, here.

Join us as we discuss the impact(s) of prison on children and address ways to explain it to them. This event is relevant for families with incarcerated loved ones and individuals who work with children of the incarcerated (as educators, caregivers, or service providers).

The event is organized by Project NIA and co-sponsored by the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), Lawndale Amachi Mentorship Program (LAMP), Prisoner & Family Ministry Connection (Lutheran Social Service of illinois), and Woman of God’s Design Ministry (WOGD).

AGENDA FOR THE DAY

10:00  — Registration (Bring your own coffee)

10:30 to Noon — Opening Panel – What are the needs of children with an incarcerated loved one? How can/should these be addressed?

Marlon Chamberlain – FORCE
Dr. Betty Green — LAMP
Amanda Klonsky — Juvenile Justice Re-Entry Project at Chicago Public Schools
Rev. Valerie Riley — Prisoner & Family Ministry Connection

12:15 to 1:45 pm — Lunch and Film Screening

2:00 to 3:15 pm — Workshops

Workshop #1 — Things I Wish I’d Said To My Children: A Workshop for Formerly Incarcerated Parents

Join Bianca Diaz, a Project NIA volunteer, in a workshop that asks parents to share their hopes, fears, and dreams for the children they left behind. Through letter writing and art making, we will share and discuss what formerly incarcerated parents would have wanted their children to know while they were gone. How did you explain to your child what was happening? How did you stay connected? Do you wish you could have explained things better? What did you want them to know?

Workshop #2 – Visible Voices and the Reunite Moms and Kids Campaign 

What can we do to reduce the separation of families by parental incarceration? Mothers from the Visible Voices group will discuss their experience of being separated from children by incarceration and the need for policy change. Participants will explore the impact of mass incarceration on families and alternatives to keep families together. How can family members and allies promote systemic change that supports family relationships, restorative justice practices and sentences other than prison?

3:30 to 4:45 pm — Workshops

Workshop #1 — Things I Wish I’d Said to My Children: A Workshop for Formerly Incarcerated Parents

Join Bianca Diaz, a Project NIA volunteer, in a workshop that asks parents to share their hopes, fears, and dreams for the children they left behind. Through letter writing and art making, we will share and discuss what formerly incarcerated parents would have wanted their children to know while they were gone. How did you explain to your child what was happening? How did you stay connected? Do you wish you could have explained things better? What did you want them to know?

Workshop #2 – When A Parent Is Arrested: Caring for the Children – Legal Options and Resources by Gail Smith, CLAIM

Participants will explore legal options to keep children safe and to maintain parent-child relationships when the parent is in jail or prison. Facilitator, Gail Smith, will cover children’s rights to be enrolled in school, short-term guardianship with no court involvement, court-ordered guardianship and custody orders, the right to visit and limit under Illinois law, and the foster care system. How can families preserve parent-child relationships and increase parents’ chances to reunite with children after incarceration? Participants will receive a copy of CLAIM’s caregivers’ guide.

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