Friday, February 04, 2005

Support children of imprisoned parents

Tomorrow I'm helping out at a volunteer orientation for Aid to Children of Imprisoned Mothers. This Atlanta organization was founded 16 years ago by Sandra Barnhill and serves some of the estimated 8,000 children in Georgia have mothers who are in prison. Because More than 90% of the women in Georgia's prisons are mothers of dependent children and because the children are five times more likely to go to prison themselves, this work is vitally important.

The statistics are similar all over. Here's how you can learn more and help:

* EUROCHIPS is the European Committee for Children of Imprisoned Parents. They write "children must be able to maintain a link with both parents if separated from one or both, a right stipulated in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union." Their site is available in English and French.

* Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents is a Los Angeles-based national organization, "Our mission is the prevention of intergenerational crime and incarceration. Our goals are the production of high quality documentation on and the development of model services for children of criminal offenders and their families."

* Family and Corrections Network is "an organization for and about families of prisoners. We offer information, training and technical assistance on children of prisoners, parenting programs for prisoners, prison visiting, incarcerated fathers and mothers, hospitality programs, keeping in touch, returning to the community, the impact of the justice system on families, and prison marriage."

* Canadian Family and Corrections Network builds "stronger and safer communities by assisting families affected by criminal behavior, incarceration and community reintegration."

Many of these sites have lists of links to local service providers. Use them to get help if your family needs it, or search the lists to find an organization you can support with your time, talent, or money. I know from my experience at AIM that such work is needed and very much appreciated. Consider the children, then do what you can to save a child, save a family, and save your community.

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