Symposium teaches how to help kids with incarcerated parents

admin | 5/3/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Much attention has been shed upon the effects of imprisonment upon Black men and women and the issues that they face both prison or jail and once they return home. However, less focus has been placed upon how their long absences affects the children that they leave at home. The effects that are known about tend to be very negative. In addition to increasing the chances that their child will likely enter the adult criminal justice system themselves, having an incarcerated parent often leads to stress, stigmatization, trauma and even separation issues for the youth, according to the Administration for Children and Families. In 2007, 2.3 percent of all U.S. children under the age of 18 had a parent in prison. According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics special report, 6.7 percent of those children were Black. Aware of the broad reaching effects that a parents incarceration has upon children, the Service Network for Children of Inmates hosted a recent symposium, Rebuilding Lives and Restoring Hope. The symposium was held at the Trinity Churchs Peacemakers Family Center in Miami on Thursday, April 26th and Friday, April 27th. The Service Network for Children of Inmates brings together community, professional and faith organizations to provide better care coordination and advocacy for children and families of incarcerated parents. The symposium offered a wide range of presentations, roundtables and workshops about the mental, physical and emotional issues children of inmates face. Among some of the sessions included were how to help families and inmates bond over time, enhancing parenting skills for incarcerated parents, and even the role that religion and faith can play in addressing this special youth population. The event also provided sessions discussing ways that community and professional organizations can better engage and offer services and activities to families that have incarcerated parents. Among the events keynote speakers were Rev. W. Wilson Goode of the Amachi Mentoring Program - a faith-based mentoring model for children with incarcerated parents, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker and the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Childs Dr. Maria Herzcog. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com