IL Group Seeks Services For Kids With Imprisoned Parents


The mother of Heaven Carr, 12, of Illinois, has been behind bars for five years. Her father, Shaun, who was once jailed himself, runs a home remodeling business during the day and a cleaning service at night. The Washington Post says he is forming a support group for men with incarcerated spouses. “There are no services for men in this position — none,” he said. “You’d think that if a man decides to stay with his kids, people would embrace you and help you pull through. But it’s the opposite.”

Those who deal with the incarcerated say that 50 to 70 percent of children of imprisoned parents will end up behind bars. Such children are also less likely to do well in school, research suggests. In the Chicago area, where there are an estimated 90,000 children of the imprisoned and paroled, a coalition of community groups and state politicians is developing strategies to create better lines of communication between children and their jailed parents, and to diminish the severe shortage of help. The Chicago-based Community Renewal Society is working with legislators and state officials to expand family-oriented programs, to be run by nonprofits, in prisons. “I’m so grateful they put a face on this issue,” said Roberta Fews of the Illinois Department of Corrections. “We can’t punish the children because their parent made a few bad decisions. We don’t want to see the child go down the same path.”


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