Connecticut officials met yesterday to create a bill of rights for children of incarcerated parents, the Hartford Courant reports. “Children of prisoners are often invisible and overlooked,” said Susan Quinlan of Families in Crisis, which works with families of incarcerated parents. “We as a community need to respond to that.” In Hartford, between 4,500 and 6,000 children – about one in every six children in the city – have at least one parent in a state prison. The very fact that no hard numbers exist and that the state is left to extrapolate estimates from national trends illustrates the need for local attention, Quinlan said.
The group agreed to base its work on these principles: Counseling should be provided to all children of prisoners to help them deal with loss, trauma and stigma; transportation should be provided to children of prisoners whose caretakers don’t have cars, so they can visit their incarcerated parent; it is traumatizing for children to witness their parents’ arrest, and there should be a protocol for police officers to follow when children are present during an arrest; children should have a chance to speak with their parents after an arrest so the parents can explain what is happening; chhildren should have a say in decisions about their own placements after a parent’s arrest if the parent is their caretaker.