In the begining of December, we donated copies of the ChIPs Storybooks to New Hour for Women and Children, a non-profit that provides support for children and mothers during and after incarceration. They recently shared with us how these storybooks have impacted the children and families of their program in Long Island, NY.
Dear Safer Society staff,
We are deeply grateful for your organization’s support of your holiday gifts of ChIPs Storybooks for our New Hour children. The items donated were very much appreciated by our mothers and children visiting a loved one in Suffolk’s jails. We were moved by your empathy for our families. Often visiting a parent or loved one in jail can be overwhelming for anyone, but for a child it can be especially traumatic. Your donations were greatly appreciated by the children who left the visiting room with smiles as they left with a new book.
Your support will continue to make a powerful difference in the lives of women and children who remain often voiceless on Long Island and we are deeply grateful. We look forward to working with you next year.
The Safer Society Foundation has announced the addition of Judge William K. Sessions III to the nonprofit’s Board of Directors. Sessions is a noted jurist and is currently a Senior United States District Judge for the District of Vermont.
“Bill supports the work we do,” says Jean Rosenberg, long-time Safer Society Foundation board member. “He is especially eager to work with us to build our ChIPs Mentoring and Circles of Support Program, as he has a long-standing interest in programs and policies that mitigate the impact of parental incarceration on children and families.”
The ChIPs Mentoring and Circles of Support Program is a burgeoning initiative of the Foundation. It connects children of incarcerated parents with a mentor and a support group.
“We look forward to working with Judge Sessions,” said Mary Falcon, Safer Society’s executive director. “His wisdom and years of experience in the justice system will greatly enhance our ability to build effective programs to serve Vermont children and families of incarcerated parents.”
For more about the ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support Program, visit our website.
Safer Society Foundation has received a $2,500 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Small and Inspiring grant program. The grant will help further Safer Society Foundation’s mission of mitigating the impact of parental incarceration on children and families in Vermont.
According to the U.S. Government Office of Juvenile Justice (2013), children with incarcerated parents fare even worse than other at-risk youths on a range of mental and physical health outcomes and educational achievement. In combination with other sources of risk and adversity, parental incarceration increases the likelihood a youth will become involved in antisocial and delinquent behavior, leading to the increased likelihood of incarceration in adulthood.
Central Vermont’s need for a program such as the ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support Program—a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents enhanced by a comprehensive, all-around support system—is undeniable. Underscoring this need is the fact that 6,000 Vermont children every year have at least one parent in jail or prison.
“Our research on the effectiveness of conventional mentoring programs in Vermont shows that they do not provide the long-term commitment and wrap-around services these at-risk youngsters need,” said Executive Director Mary Falcon. “We believe that children of incarcerated parents (ChIPs) need long-term, dependable support—not just one-on-one but many-on-one—to help build the skills and community connections required for them to reach adulthood as productive citizens of their communities rather than burdens and liabilities.”
Through its Small and Inspiring grants program, the Community Foundation hopes to help foster the spark and hope that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy by finding and supporting projects where a small grant can make a big difference.
Safer Society Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit umbrella organization consisting of the Safer Society Press and the Fay Honey Knopp Institute. The mission of the Press is to publish books, videos, and podcasts that help build a society safe from sexual abuse and personal violence. The mission of the Institute is to minimize the harmful impact of parental incarceration on children and families. ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support is a program of the Institute. Earnings from the publications of the Press help fund the work of the Institute in Vermont. To learn more about us, please visit us at www.safersociety.org or call us at 802-247-3132.
The Vermont Community Foundation is a family of hundreds of funds and foundations established by Vermonters to serve their charitable goals. It provides the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise to make giving easy and effective. The Foundation also provides leadership in giving by responding to community needs, mobilizing and connecting philanthropists to multiply their impact, and by keeping Vermont’s nonprofit sector vital with grants and other investments in the community.
Visit www.vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.
Addison Independent – http://www.addisonindependent.com/201712safer-society-receives-grant-improve-programs
On November 2nd, the Fay Honey Knopp Institute held a workshop called Using MI Techniques to Spark Achievement Motivation in Children & Youths. The workshop was held in the meeting room at the Middlebury Regional Emergency & Medical Services facility.
David Prescott, MSW, LICSW, Clinical Services Director of the Becket Family of Services in Maine, discussed processes and skills that build on a fundamental spirit of approaching interactions with an attitude of partnership, acceptance, and compassion, with a goal to evoke the youth’s own motivations for change.
The audience expressed that they appreciated the insight that was provided, and the time David took to interact with them.
Learn more about our workshop program by clicking here.
Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a law giving children of incarcerated parents a “bill of rights.” According to Street Roots News of Portland, the new policy is intended to minimize the trauma children experience when a parent is in prison.
Advocates hope that by establishing a bill of rights for the children of incarcerated parents, Oregon’s state agencies – human services and the criminal justice and foster care systems, especially – will create policies that reduce trauma experienced by children and allow them to maintain stronger ties with their imprisoned parents.
Read more about the new bill of rights law here.
Last month, Erika Linksey (Program Director of ChIPs Mentoring and Circle of Support) had the chance to sit down and hold a short interview with Beatrice Lozada of Prison Families Anonymous Long Island, New York.
The Prison Families Anonymous is a support group that provides a safe, non-judgmental place where those who have a loved one who is incarcerated can connect with each another. It provides compassion, support and information to these family members.
During the interview, Beatrice shared with us the difficulties she faced throughout her childhood due to her father’s incarceration. She speaks about how she and her siblings maintained a relationship with their father through visits to the prison, letters and phone calls. Beatrice informs us that even after her father’s release from prison, keeping that relationship has been just as challenging.
“He doesn’t talk about his emotions very much,” Beatrice said, “but he did thank me for never giving up on him.”
You can view the short interview, Beatrice Lozada Shares Her Story of Parental Incarceration below. If you have any questions after viewing, please feel free to leave them as a comment on this blog post.
The Fay Honey Knopp Institute (part of the Safer Society Foundation) is proud to introduce Erika Linskey as the Program Director of the ChIPs Mentoring and Circles of Support program. Erika has worked with the Safer Society team since 2015 developing new programs to help children of incarcerated parents (ChIPs).
Erika earned her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Penn State and her Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from the University of Colorado. She is a former teacher from Colorado and has maintained a life-long career in teaching and childhood advocacy. She serves on the Granville (Vermont) town School Board and volunteers at Warren Elementary School as a science workshop teacher for the Four Winds Nature Institute.
“I became interested in working as director for a mentoring program because it met my desire to help kids holistically,” Erika explains. “As a teacher I was restricted to working with children during classroom hours which was difficult because during my years as an elementary art teacher in Colorado I saw the need for children to have more adult guidance outside of the classroom. The ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support program helps kids be successful in school while providing a support network for them outside of school.”
We are very pleased to have Erika on our team!
Learn more about the programs and resources developed by the Fay Honey Knopp Institute to help mitigate the impact of mass incarceration on the millions of American children and families effected by parental incarceration.
On Monday, July 31, the Fay Honey Knopp Institute hosted a workshop with presenter Dr. Jill Levenson. The focus of the workshop was trauma-informed practice when working with children, especially kids with parents in prison. The audience consisted primarily of counselors and mentors from around Vermont and nearby New York and New Hampshire communities. The even was held at the Counseling Service of Addison County facility at Catamount Park in Middlebury. Here’s an excerpt from the workshop:
Thank you to the 40 mentoring and school-related volunteers and professionals who attended and contributed to the success of our workshop on Trauma-Informed Practice, presented by Dr. Jill Levenson, at the Counseling Service of Addison County in Middlebury on Monday July 31st.
Many thanks as well to the folks at CSAC for allowing us to use their excellent conference facility. We look forward to sponsoring more such trainings for the Vermont community of helping professionals in the future. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the first issue of Safer Society’s Fay Honey Knopp Institute Newsletter, follow us on Facebook (Click Here!), and check back at this website to track the progress of our ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support program.
Many thanks again,
“Mother’s Day is a celebration of motherhood and the influence that mothers have on society. But for too many American children — including those I filmed for this project — the holiday serves as a bitter reminder that their mothers are locked behind bars.”
“More than five million children in the United States have a parent who has been incarcerated. That breaks down to one in 14 children; for black children, it’s one in 9. That’s partly because we are incarcerating women at much higher rates than before. Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country; their numbers increased by 14 times between 1970 and 2014. Most of those women are poor, African-American or Latino, and have substance abuse problems. And about 80 percent have children.”
An important component of our planned ChIPs Mentoring & Circles of Support program will be to rebuild and maintain close parental relationships between our mentees and their incarcerated parents.
Safer Society Foundation’s Executive Director, Mary Falcon, was invited to hold a workshop on Trauma-Informed Mentoring at the 2017 Vermont Mentoring Symposium (hosted by Mobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership), an event in which youth mentoring program professionals throughout Vermont came together to collaborate, share, and learn from one another.
Mary’s presentation was about helping to improve mentor effectiveness through an understanding of the harmful impact of chronic traumas in childhood, or adverse childhood experiences (also known as ACEs), on children’s thought processes, emotions, and behavior. Mary talked about the training of mentors in Safer Society’s planned ChIPs Mentoring & Circle of Support program and stressed that it is important for mentors in all programs to be trained to recognize behaviors that may be the result of ACEs—such as distrustfulness of adults, irrational fears, difficulty focusing—and respond appropriately in order to help mentees overcome these problems.
Are you interested in attending a workshop on Trauma-Informed Practice? Safer Society Foundation has invited Dr. Jill Levenson, a Professor of Social Work, Barry University, to talk more about the prevalence of ACEs and their traumatic social and emotional impacts on cognitive processes and behavior throughout the lifespan. (Workshop eligible for CEUs!) The workshop will be held on July 31, 2017 in Middlebury, Vermont. Click the link below to learn more/register!
Approximately 6 percent of state prisoners and 16 percent of federal prisoners are incarcerated in for-profit prisons. The evidence that governments can save money through privatization is mixed at best—in fact, private prisons may in some instances cost more than governmental ones. Private prisons have also been linked to numerous cases of violence and atrocious conditions. Safer Society Foundation seeks to encourage state governments to follow the recently-established federal precedent of ending the decades-long trend of the privatization of prisons in America.
An exhaustive investigation of private prisons in federal use was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and published in August, 2016. The investigators determined that the private prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable Bureau of Prisons institutions.
Read the entire report here.
The U.S. Justice Department has finally come to the realization that the private prisons used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons are more costly and more inhumane than the government-operated prisons. As reported in the Washington Post, August 18, 2016, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has instructed department officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prisons or substantially reduce the contracts’ scope. “The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons. They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,”
Read the entire article here.
Picture an 11-year-old child running down the street after a police car screaming and begging the officer to let her father stay home. Meryam Bouadjemi recalls the somber quiet of a morning in March of 2000. She remembers her mother leading the family in prayer after Meryam’s father was taken to prison. But until a family member told her the story 10 years later, she had blocked out the painful memory of chasing after the police car.
Meryam’s story is not unique. Twenty percent of the 2.7 million children of incarcerated parents witness their parent being taken away to prison. What happens to the children and families left behind? Generally, they are left to deal with the hardships and stigmas of having an incarcerated family member.
Meryam’s family became a single parent household. Living off her secretary’s income, Meryam’s mother struggled to keep up with the expenses of the home and family. Meryam experienced the social consequences of having an incarcerated parent. She lost the friendship of children whose families no longer wanted to associate with hers. She worked hard in school but received no counseling or support to help her deal with her father’s incarceration.
Children of incarcerated parents and their families are let down by the criminal justice system, the school system, and the community. Meryam was lucky to have a hard working mother and supportive family. Many children of incarcerated parents do not have this kind of support. Awareness needs to be built and policies need to be changed so that these children are not left behind with broken families and lives.
Source: Meryam Bouadjemi http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-incarcerated-parents-20160622-story.html
From the age of five Adriana spent most of her childhood weekends and holidays in prison visiting her father. She felt that “It was the only place and time in my life that my family was complete.” Now as an adult in her thirties her father is still in prison serving out his 35 year sentence for drug related charges.
As a child Adriana did not understand that this would create life-long trauma for her. From the sound of buzzers that are like that of prison doors opening to the sight of vending machines that trigger memories of the only food available for her to eat at the prison, there are reminders of her prison visits everywhere. To this day Adriana has difficulty with the stigma of having an incarcerated parent. “Even as an adult I find myself struggling to say that “My Father is in prison” out loud to anyone. My wound is always fresh every time I visit the prison and leave my father behind. What most people fail to recognize is that the children of incarcerated parents also serve time.”
Besides having the hardship of parental visitations in a prison setting, children of incarcerated parents also experience a variety of emotions that can be challenging to deal with. Early intervention and mental health services are essential for helping these children grow towards a healthy adulthood. The statistics are grim for those children who fall through the cracks of the judicial system and are left navigate their parent’s incarceration mostly on their own.
Adriana attributes her successes to the services that were provided to her as a child and also to her supportive extended family. She now has her own family and is in law school. She feels hopeful that her life experiences and her career path will help others including her own son who now visits his grandfather in prison. “My hope is to advocate for youth and to show them that their life experience and trauma does not need to define them.”
Source: Adriana Mendez https://www.youngmindsadvocacy.org/children-of-incarcerated-parents-also-serve-time/