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"On any given day, there are an estimated 2 million children in America with at least one parent in prison or jail." (National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated).
When we look at the needs of men and women who are incarcerated, we often overlook those left behind. The family Care Network is an online resource dedicated to helping children of prisoners and their caregivers. It is an organization focused on children and families of the incarcerated and programs that serve them.
For those of you who are considering a ministry connected to the needs of inmates, consider mentoring in this area. Children of the incarcerated have a much higher rate of incarceration (6%) as compared to other children. They are also more aggressive and rebellious, but research has shown that caring adults make a difference in the lives of these children.
The Family Caregiver Network has many opportunities to learm more about the needs of inmate children including links to helpful sites in your area and a library of free resources. Here is a list from Children of Prisoners Library.
What do Children of Prisoners and their Caregivers Need?
Do any of you work with or know of children of incarcerated parents? I'd love to hear from you.
- Consistent caring adults who understand that, in general, children love their parents, even when they have committed a crime.
- People who will not condemn the incarcerated parents as worthless.
- People who will understand that children of prisoners feel angry, sad, confused, and worried.
- A chance to express these feelings and learn to cope with them.
- A chance to learn and practice skills and keep busy with activities.
- Faith or affiliation with a community that can provide meaning for the child beyond their own crisis.
- People who can help them to maintain contact with their incarcerated parent or parents or explain to them why they cannot maintain contact.