Suwannee Democrat

Suwannee Democrat

August 23, 2013

Sesame Street uniting broken families

Live Oak — The Florida Department of Corrections Region II facilities held Sesame Street Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration events and activities on Saturday, Aug. 17, during their regularly scheduled visitation and Suwannee Correctional Institution was one of the participating facilities.


The program

Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is a resource for children and their families to help them cope with the reality of incarceration. Florida was one of 10 pilot states that launched the resource and the Florida DOC partnered with Sesame Street on the project at no cost to the DOC.

With a total of about 64,475 minor children reported by Florida inmates, the program is attempting to fill a need to help children who have a parent in prison cope with the situation and strengthen family bonds, while also entertaining them with an age appropriate video, compliments of Sesame Street and other fun activities.

The program is designed to support and comfort, as well as reduce anxiety, sadness and confusion that young children may experience during the incarceration of a parent; provide at-home caregivers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration; inform incarcerated parents that they can parent from anywhere; and provide them with simple parenting tips highlighting the importance of communication.

The number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80 percent in the past 20 years. With nearly 2.7 million children having a parent in state or federal prison, there are few resources in existence to support young children and families with this life-changing circumstance.

Sesame Workshop worked closely with advisors and partners in the pilot states to distribute and integrate the program into the correctional facilities and organizations that specialize in early childhood education, mental health and counseling, parenting programs, foster care, and organizations that have missions specific to helping families cope with the incarceration of a loved one.

The partnership between the Department and Sesame Street Workshop is a collaboration that will allow for the dissemination of these much needed resources in Florida institutions for incarcerated family members, children, caregivers and loved ones.

The DOC has created a resource page on their web site with a variety of resources and materials which can be previewed at www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/children/.

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