Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sesame Street Helps Children Deal With the Incarceration of a Parent

Sesame Street has just launched  Little Children Big Challenges: Incarceration, designed to help kids  aged three to eight cope with the incarceration of mom or dad.  This toolkit includes resources for caregivers and parents including videos, storybooks, activity sheets and tips for guiding children through this very emotional change in their lives. The toolkit is also available in Spanish and can be downloaded as an app.

While the Sesame Street toolkit is very child friendly and has materials that can be shared directly with children, other excellent material is also available to guide caretakers in talking with children and being honest about the situation.  For example, The Arizona's Children Association has published Arizona Family Members Behind Bars:  Difficult Questions Children Ask ...and Answers that Might Help.  Although some of the specific criminal procedures mentioned may vary by state, this guide has many sample answers about the criminal justice system "from arrest to release" that would apply to questioning children anywhere.

The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Family & Corrections Network has online libraries for Children of Prisoners in English and Spanish and an Incarcerated Fathers Library, specifically designed to help the incarcerated parent maintain healthy contact with the children.

The American Bar Association Section of Litigation Children's Rights Litigation has recently published two theoretical articles addressed to attorneys, social workers, mental health workers and others.  A Voice for the Young Child with an Incarcerated Parent and Meeting the Needs of Children With an Incarcerated Parent  present best practices for maintaining parent child contact and an exploration of the psychological implications of interrupted parental attachment. 

The Trial Court Law Libraries have a multitude of resources about Criminal Law and Procedure, but the legal treaties and laws are, of course, not written to deal with the resulting turmoil in the lives of the children of the perpetrators.