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Helping Children With Incarcerated Parents Essay

2342 words - 9 pages

A serious issue facing this country today is the 2.7 million children currently being left behind with incredible pain while their parents are being placed behind bars (Maier 91). They are left behind with not only pain, but the struggles of living day to day life without the guidance of their parents, as well as having to find a new home. According to child development specialist and the founding director of the Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents, Denise Johnston, “there are over 10 million minor children in the United States who have dealt with parental incarceration over the course of time” (91). The Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) program needs to take the initiative in the process of reunification between parents who have been incarcerated, and the children which whom they leave behind. The Big Brother Big Sister program is designed to nurture children that have not had that sense of connection before, also helping them to recognize their potential, as well as helping them to build a bright future. The BBBS program serves many children in the world that deal with various challenges in life, but one program in relation is the Amachi program. “The Amachi program specifically helps children with an incarcerated parent to broaden their perspectives on what they can achieve in life and help them to overcome” (Big Brother Big Sister).

Along with the responsibilities they possess, the Amachi/BBBS program should also help to reunify these children back with their parents once they are released from incarceration. Ultimately, having these BBBS mentors there to encourage these children to visit their parents is creating an easier path to complete reunification. According to R. Anna Hayward and Diane DePanfilis of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, by doing this the mentors are “promoting the key aspects of the likelihood, speed, and success of reunification” (1322). Diane and Edward Reed, who are both hold 20+ years in health policy analysis and technical assistance go on to state, “most law enforcement and child welfare agencies lack both awareness of the issues and the means to respond to children following the arrest and/or incarceration of their parents” (161). These agencies, along with the law enforcement officials, hold importance while dealing with these Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIPs), but they deal more from a business prospective. While on the other hand, the Big Brother Big Sister program is more of an emotional connection and that is something that most of these children lack and are in need of.

Where parents and their children reside can have a huge impact on their lives in many different aspects. Children with parents that are incarcerated, are typically raised in poor and poverty stricken neighborhoods. “Of course there are middle-class and even some wealthy offenders, but when proportioned, over 90 percent of offenders are what we would define as poor” (Maier 93). “Poverty is the big background...

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