2.7 million American kids have parents in prison!
To help these children, Safer Society Foundation presents a new series of free illustrated storybooks for counseling children of incarcerated parents (ChIPs).
See our ChIPs Program website for updates and more information.
Each of these short stories is told from the point of view of one child who has a particular family situation and challenge to overcome. At the end of the 12-page story, are two coloring pages for the child reader to write and illustrate his or her own story. In the back of the book, a note to the caregiver suggests ways to engage children in reading and talking about the story and helping them draw parallels to their own situations and challenges.
There are approximately 2.7 million children growing up with an incarcerated parent in America (Pew Research Study, 2013). Having a parent in prison has a major impact on a child’s mental health, social behavior, and educational prospects. The emotional trauma is exacerbated by the practical difficulties caused by the disruption of family life and the financial hardships that result from the loss of a parent’s income.
Safer Society Foundation advocates for the practical support that needs to be provided to children of incarcerated parents by local, state, and federal systems. In addition, we offer this series of storybooks to assist caretakers and helping professionals in their efforts to provide these children with emotional support and counseling. The series will begin with four stories for children ages 4 – 8 and four stories for children ages 8 – 11.
If you are interested in obtaining booklets for use by your organization, please click here.
Each of these short stories is told from the point of view of one child who has a particular family situation and challenge to overcome. At the end of the 12-page book, a two-page note to the caretaker suggests ways to engage children in reading and talking about the story and helping them draw parallels to their own situations and challenges.
The author, Katelen Fortunati, MSW LCSW, leads an early intervention program for children who currently have an incarcerated parent for over three years. She provides individual and family therapy along with a range of case management services. She works to help the families gain stability, increase communication and work towards reunification. Through her work she has discovered that there is a shortage of therapeutic resources for these children. The illustrator, Theresa Bergman, MA-Interdisciplinary Arts, is passionate about applying fine arts to helping people understand and look at life in new ways. In illustrating these stories, her aim has been to depict scenes as the child character might have drawn them.
Below are descriptions of three of the stories:
Jasmine is an eight-year-old girl whose mother is incarcerated in a federal prison far from where Jasmine and her two siblings now reside with their maternal grandmother. Because she was close to her mother, Jasmine struggles with not being able to visit her mother. She becomes engaged with a counselor who teaches her how to write letters to her mother and she learns that writing and receiving letters from her mother is a special way to stay connected with her. (For children ages 4 – 8)
Jasmine’s Story is available now!View a PDF version of Jasmine’s Story
The father of 11-year-old Kenny Junior, or KJ as everyone calls him, is serving a life sentence in prison. KJ always wanted to be just like his dad. Now he worries that he is going to make the same mistakes his dad made and end up in prison too. KJ struggles with his identity and self-esteem. With the help of his Big Brother, he learns that he is capable of making his own decisions and is worthy of determining his own outcome. (For children 8 – 12)
KJ’s Story is now available.View a PDF version of K.J.’s Story
Six-year-old Bailey and her younger brother are living with a foster family while their mother is in prison. Bailey likes to visit her mom but is fearful about her release from prison. Life at home with her mother was very chaotic and at times scary. With the foster family she feels safe. Bailey works through her fears with a counselor as she prepares for her mother’s release from prison. (For children ages 4 – 8)
Bailey’s Story is coming soon.View a PDF version of Bailey’s Story
The storybooks are now available for purchase. They cost $2.50 each, or $2.00 each when you buy ten or more of the same title. Click to this page to order.