“When my mother was sentenced, I felt that I was sentenced. She was sentenced to prison-to be away from her kids and family. I was sentenced as a child, to be without my mother.”-Bernstein, N., All Alone in the World, Children of the Incarcerated, 2005
To strengthen the connection between incarcerated parents and their families while facilitating ties to their community through education and support.
The Family Connections Center is a family support program located within the New Hampshire Department of Corrections. The Family Connections Center (FCC) is located in the all three of the New Hampshire State prisons and provides services at each of the associated minimum security units.
Since 1998, the Family Connections Center (FCC) uses a strength-based approach to meet parents where they are at, to educate and support them, during their physical separation from their children due to incarceration. FCC connects the families left behind to family support programs in their communities, while creating healthy, fun activities for the children to participate with their incarcerated parent.
The Reason FCC exists
- Children love their parent no matter what, even when they are mad at them for making choices that landed them in prison. Many children are worried about the safety of their incarcerated parent. Visits with parents (in most cases) help to heal the pain of the loss and are critical to children’s well-being.
- Separation due to a parent’s incarceration can be as painful as other forms of parental loss and can be even more complicated because of the stigma, ambiguity, and lack of social support and compassion that accompanies it.
- Parental incarceration is now recognized as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) which means these children will have high rates of poor mental and physical health conditions. The number of children affected by parental incarceration is growing as the prison and jail population increases, a study from Child Trends.org was published in October 2015 states that 1 in 14 children have a parent incarcerated.
- International human rights advocates have called parental incarceration “the greatest threat to child well-being in the U.S.” (Comment from The World’s Children Prize Foundation at the 2004 Worlds Children Prize Award Ceremony)
- More and more studies show how important it is for children to have both their parents in their lives, if possible. In a study examining father involvement with 134 children of adolescent mothers over the first 10 years of life, researchers found that father-child contact was associated with better socio-emotional and academic functioning. The results indicated that children with more involved fathers experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in case of nonresident fathers. - Source: Howard, K. S., Burke Lefever, J. E., Borkowski, J.G., & Whitman , T. L. (2006). Fathers’ influence in the lives of children with adolescent mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 468- 476.
Family Connections Center newsletter - April 2015
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