Startling Statistics: 2.5 million American children currently have one or both parents incarcerated. Specifically, one in four African American children born in the last thirty years have had a parent in prison for some point in their childhood.
Why this matters: In their 1993 longitudinal study, Robert Anda (Centers for Disease Control) and Vincent Felitti (Kaiser Permanente) defined parental incarceration as an "adverse childhood effect". Parental incarceration puts children at significantly higher risk of emotional and behavioral issues, poor academic performance, developmental delays and juvenile delinquency. Ultimately, children of the incarcerated are much more likely to live in low-income households and to eventually end up in prison themselves.
Our work: Since 1987, Foreverfamily (FF) has supported families of the incarcerated by focusing on three overarching goals: that our children develop positive life skills and enduring core values, that the bond within our families is strengthened, and that the cycle of incarceration does not affect our children. We support the children and their families by providing afterschool programming and tutorial three times a week, monthly family dinners and advocacy trainings, a week-long summer camp, and monthly transportation for children to visit their incarcerated parent.
The impact: Through the generosity of individuals and community partners, last year, Foreverfamily was able to offer afterschool programming (ASP) for 45 students, 97 % of whom were promoted to the next grade, boasting an average GPA of 3.28. Monthly transportation to women's prisons allowed the children to have a more involved relationship with their parents. This strengthened bond will ultimately provide more stability when the parents re-enter society, decreasing the risk that they return to prison.
Good intentions aren't enough: Our children need all the help they can get, right now. A 2011 study by Donald Hernandez found that low-income students who aren't reading on grade level by third grade are thirteen times less likely to graduate from high school than their on-level, wealthier peers. Simultaneously, Northeastern University researchers found that dropping out of high school increases the risk of incarceration or juvenile detention for males by 250 %.
Even though literacy and overall educational deficiencies are strongly linked to future adult criminal behavior, funding for programs which would proactively combat these problems is incredibly strained. On the other hand, Georgia spends three times as much on an inmate as it does on a student in the public school system. The federal criminal justice system has doubled in size and cost in the last 20 years, and now Georgia faces pressure to reform the justice system to alleviate the financial strain. However, Georgia has yet to invest proactively in equally supporting and educating our at-risk children, despite the overwhelming evidence that quality education is one of the strongest preventative measures that would keep children out of prison.
Ff understands that in order to end the vicious cycle of poverty, crime, and incarceration, strategic intervention is necessary. Ff's programming is designed specifically to support and educate children of the incarcerated, to help them develop productive life and leadership skills. We need your help to continue changing lives!
Please donate today to provide the love and support of a family to our kids. If you are interested in learning more about our work or in volunteering your time or services, visit our website (www.foreverfam.org) or contact Beth Wettlin (firstname.lastname@example.org).