I recently saw a piece on the news about this wonderful program “New Hope.”
According to federal statistics, children with a parent in prison are five times more likely to end up in prison themselves. John Bentley, CBS Evening News, reports on “New Hope,” an Oklahoma non-profit program that aims to break the cycle.
The Issue: An Invisible Population
No one knows how many children in Oklahoma have a parent in prison. No government agency or private group monitors this segment of the population. These children are —invisible victims of crime, as there is no official record of them and no attempt to address their needs. Somewhere between 20,000 to 25,000 children in Oklahoma have a parent in prison.
A Growing Population
Between 1991 and 2007, a national survey found that the number of children of incarcerated parents in our country increased by 80% and the number of children with incarcerated mothers more than doubled – up 131%. (BJS Parents in Prison)
An Oklahoma Population
Oklahoma has the highest per capita incarceration rate of women in the United States, and ranks fourth in the nation for incarceration of men. In fact, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate of women is more than double that of the national average. (DOC web site).
An At-Risk Population
Children who have a parent in prison are at risk for academic and behavioral problems. When a mother is incarcerated, the child’s home is disrupted. Children are placed with relatives, friends or foster care. Families suffer from financial and emotional stressors. Children often suffer from symptoms of separation anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.
An Underserved Population
Few programs specifically address the needs of Oklahoma children who have a parent in prison. Of the programs that do, many offer one type of service, such as mentoring or assistance with visiting incarcerated parents.
For more information on this great program go to their website – http://www.newhopeoklahoma.org/index.html
You can Like them on FB here – https://www.facebook.com/NewHopeOklahoma