A Parent in Prison? More Common than Autism
6, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - Having a parent in prison is more common than childhood autism in the
U.S., according to a new report from Volunteers of America that seeks to raise
awareness of what life is like for the children and their caregivers.
Poffenberger Lovell, director of Family Strengthening at Volunteers of America,
says there is a deep stigma for children that becomes more significant as the
child grows older.
mean, it's one thing to have a two-year-old, it's another thing to have a
15-year-old and to be struggling with some of the social pressures that come
along with that," she says.
from the Pennsylvania Prison Society and three dozen other groups estimates at
least 95,000 children in Pennsylvania have parents in prison.
report recommends that criminal justice agencies treat children of incarcerated
parents with some measure of empathy, and courts should recognize that parents
involved with the legal system often have children who require attention.
says it's important that everyone understands that these children are innocent
sure that we're raising the visibility," she stresses. "These are
kids in your neighborhood, and in your school system and at your YMCA."
Volunteers of America report suggests providing safe environments so children
can visit parents more often, and in areas that don't look like prisons.
of America runs several pilot programs around the country where the group
coaches incarcerated parents and offers coaching and assistance to those caring
for the children.