Imagine the impact on children and families that have a parent or spouse in prison. Incarceration affects many more people than just the prisoner.
On any given day, there are an estimated 2 million children in America that have at least one parent in prison. How do these children and families cope with this family separation?
In California, there is a service called, Friends Outside. Since 1955, Friends Outside has been a visionary, pro-active child and family advocate helping families, children and incarcerated individuals cope with the trauma of arrest and incarceration, find a new direction, and move forward with their lives.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. “-Margaret Mead
The Mission of Friends Outside is to improve the quality of the lives of families, children and even communities impacted by incarceration, and to assist with successful community reentry and family reunification for those transitioning from confinement to freedom.
The Vision of Friends Outside is to provide incarcerated individuals and families the opportunity to become contributing members of their community.
Friends Outside believes strongly that keeping communication and contact with family and friends while incarcerated, helps create positive change for prisoners and can greatly reduce recidivism rates. Frequent visits from family members can help reduce stress, anxiety and anti-social behavior. In addition, maintaining a child-parent relationship during the parent’s incarceration creates a positive impact on the child’s emotional development, school adjustment and behavior.
Friends Outside has a wide range of programs and services available.
Visitor Center Program:
Funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Friends Outside provides services and support for visitors at every California State Prison.
Children’s Activities and childcare can be provided for children ages 6-17 who may not be able to sustain a lengthy visit.
A sheltered place is a place for visitors to rest and prepare themselves for a trip to and from prison.
Clothing is provided for visitors who may come to visit dressed inappropriately. Transportation is often provided, as well as resources and information.
Family Liaison Services include pre-release planning, parenting classes, anger management classes, creative conflict classes and support and referral programs.
Other programs within the Friends Outside program include many support and referral networks, reentry assistance, education, housing and substance abuse programs. Friends Outside is planning on expanding their services in the future.
To read more about this amazing and positive organization, please read more here.
If you would like to donate to Friends Outside, please read more here.