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Michigan Programs for Kids With Incarcerated Parents

by Jaime Budzienski, studioD

Children of incarcerated parents face a unique set of challenges. According to The Sentencing Project, these kids often lose contact with the parent in prison, and visits with them are rare. They're more likely to drop out of school, get into trouble, and become incarcerated themselves. Given the struggles of these children, many states, like Michigan, have programs designed to provide them with the support they need.

VIP Mentoring

Short for Volunteers in Prevention, Probation, and Prisons, Inc., VIP Mentoring in Detroit aims to make a difference in the lives of high-risk youth ages 7 to 14. VIP mentors are men and women from all walks of life who volunteer to be matched with a child of an incarcerated parent and meet with them for 2 hours each week. The pair stays matched for at least 12 months, even after the parent is released.

SKIP Inc. Community Resources

Founded in 1979, SKIP, Inc. Community Resources serves children ages 6 to 16. They partner with community organizations to provide an enrichment program to ensure kids receive the attention they need to keep them on track. Through SKIP, Inc., children are provided with academic and social enrichment, health education and mentoring. They also get the chance to participate in cultural experiences like field trips to museums, aquariums and concerts.

HeadStart Connections

HeadStart, a free early education program that began in the 1960s, created a program called Connections, which works only with female prisoners who haven't been convicted of violent crimes or sexual offenses. Kids are coached while visiting their incarcerated parents, and also with primary caregivers, about how to handle any emotional challenges they might be grappling with. Additionally, Connections' staff helps imprisoned parents set personal goals and find ways to stay involved in their children's lives. They also teach parents about kids' educational and medical needs.

Prison Fellowship

Prison Fellowship recruits churches to help children of incarcerated parents with their Angel Tree Day program. During the summer months, Michigan's Angel Tree chapter gives applications to inmates at the state's correctional facilities to give them the opportunity to sign their children up to receive holiday gifts. Church members from around the state purchase the gifts and present them on behalf of the incarcerated parent. Each gift contains a special message from the parent.

About the Author

Jaime Budzienski has contributed essays and articles to the "Boston Globe Sunday Magazine," "Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine" and the "Boston Parents Paper." She holds a B.F.A. in writing, literature and publishing from Emerson College and a master's degree in education from UMASS Boston.

Photo Credits

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