Through a partnership with Civic Action Network, the annual membership gathering focused on change for the families of incarcerated parents. Choosing key players to attend the gathering including the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) director Gladys Taylor, the Community Renewal Society (CRS) was able to educate and draw action for the benefit of children caught in the web of separation from their parents. Here’s a piece of that report:
“After hearing moving testimony from grandmothers raising their grandchildren due to parental incarceration and church leaders working for change for the 90,000 children in Illinois with an incarcerated parent, Director Taylor committed that IDOC would:
*Maintain no limit on the number of children who can visit a parent at one time
*Ensure that new lockdown procedures accomodate the needs of children who travel long distances to see their parents
*Expand video visitation to all IDOC facilities and allow CRS to review the proposals for companies providing these services to ensure that they meet the needs of families
*Transform visitation spaces into family friendly environments
*Move toward contact visits so children can touch and hug their parents
*Create family programming prior to parental re-entry
*Meet quarterly with CRS and other family advocates to continue to improve services for families. “
Yes, you read that correctly, 90,000 children in Illinois live without one or both parents because of incarceration. How many in your state? What is the impact on the children and the caregivers? Facts stir the conscience - In 2002, for instance, 76% of people in state prisons were convicted of non‐violent crimes, including 31% for drug offenses, and 29% for property offenses. The topic certainly warrants discussion and hopefully a queue from the Community Renewal Society and the Illinois Department of Corrections to make change where we can.
Along with this announcement from Barb Schwartz came three valuable documents especially for those working to understand this significant problem for families whether in kinship care or not.
Browse through the fact sheet from the National Resource Center for Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Family and Corrections Network; www.fcnetwork.org to get a real feel for the extent of the issue.
An article from Social Work Policy is loaded with resources especially for social researchers http://www.socialworkpolicy.org/
For copies of fact sheets or articles regarding the Community Renewal Society’s excellent results on behalf of incarcerated families contact Barb Schwartz of Illinois Kinship Care, Barb.Schwartz@Illinois.gov
Thanks to all involved for the awareness and information on this critical issue.