How You Can See & Support Children of Incarcerated Parents

October is “See Us, Support Us” Month of Action

By: Melissa Radcliff | September 2021

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In this third school year impacted by COVID, the supportive adults in our kids’ lives are more important than ever. For the almost 17,000 children here in North Carolina who are also facing the reality of having a parent in prison (and many more whose parent is in jail or returning home after being incarcerated), a trained and caring adult can make a world of difference.

Disparate impacts on children of color 

One in 14 children in our state will experience parental incarceration. Because of the many biases in the criminal justice system that lead to the over-incarceration of Black and brown Americans, children of color are significantly more likely to be affected (see infographic below).

Ifographic: 1 in 9 Black children, 1 in 28 Latinx children, 1 in 57 white children have incarcerated parents

When parents are incarcerated or struggling to return successfully, children can face a range of increased challenges. These include social stigmas, feelings of shame, or isolation with no one to talk with, changes in family relationships, and struggles with school. What can we do to support them and their parents – both in school and the larger community?

Launched in 2015 by the Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents (NYCIP), See Us, Support Us (SUSU) raises awareness about and increases support for children of incarcerated parents. SUSU is a year-round effort with national partners, culminating in a month of action in October. This year, the See Us, Support Us campaign focuses on supporting children’s educational success and wellbeing from early childhood through college.

SUSU aims to decrease stigma, build community, share supportive resources, and celebrate children who thrive and succeed when we SEE and SUPPORT them.

Get involved this October

Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons, a North Carolina statewide education and advocacy program focused on community support for children of incarcerated and returning parents, invites you to join with folks across the state who are taking these action steps in October and beyond:

  • Explore the SUSU website which is full of helpful resources for community members who work with children and families.
  • Share the Educators Resource Toolkit with the educators in your life. The toolkit is meant to guide educators and school staff as they seek to see and support children of incarcerated parents in the classroom. Be creative in thinking about who you can share the link with – teachers and teacher assistants, counselors, social workers, nurses, coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, afterschool programs providers, librarians. We’d love to hear about your sharing!
  • Invite Our Children’s Place to present a workshop to your organization. Check out this map on our website to see if we’ve presented in your community before. Please help us reach the counties we haven’t connected with yet! While you’re at it, check out our regular Facebook and Twitter posts where we’ll share helpful tips each week in October, along with our regular information sharing about groups we’re presenting to, new books and research, articles we read and programs we’ve learned about, and so much more. If you’d like to receive those tips via email, simply send us your email address.
  • Listen to the voices of youth who have experienced having a parent in jail or prison. We invite you to attend our virtual youth panel on Thursday, October 28th. And invite someone to join you! Email Melissa Radcliff for more details, or check out our website and social media in early October.

There are numerous steps we can take as individuals, organizations, and communities to SEE and SUPPORT our children with incarcerated and returning parents. Some are small steps and some are bigger – but together we can make a big difference. Please join us in October and throughout the year. Together we can create a community where children are recognized, supported, and encouraged to share their stories.

Our Children’s Place of Coastal Horizons is a statewide program committed to the children of incarcerated and returning parents. We strive to be the leading North Carolina advocate and educational resource focused on the children and the need for a statewide response to ensure their well-being.