The Service Network for Children of Inmates received the 2010 Champions for Children Award in November 2010 from The Children's Trust of Miami-Dade County. The Children's Trust Champions for Children Award honors individuals and programs that have achieved greatness in their service to children and families. This annual award has become one of the most coveted child advocate awards in Miami-Dade County and serves as an inspiration for others to follow in the path of the award recipients. The Service Network for Children of Inmates (COI), a collaboration of ten core agencies, has been providing much needed services for children of incarcerated parents who would not otherwise receive them from the state, county or Federal government.
As an evidence-based collaborative team, COI tracks its progress using research methods - constructing databases that account for each referral, child, care-giver, and parent and the types of services they receive.
In 2007, Peacemaker Family Center became a founding partner in this multi-skilled service partnership to deliver a system of care capable of interrupting generation-to-generation incarceration. More than 15,000 Miami-Dade County children have a parent in state and federal prison. Many others have parents in
jail. Incarceration has severe unseen consequences for families. When a judge sentences a parent to prison, children begin serving time as well.
Since its inception in 2007, COI has received 2,250 child referrals from incarcerated parents and other sources; located and contacted 1,625 of those referrals; and provided care coordination services to more than 900 children and their families. To strengthen the familial bond between the child and his/her incarcerated parent, the Network has taken over 400 children to visit their parents at 9 Florida Department of Corrections facilities and the Miami-Dade County Jail since 2008.
Children of Inmates connects children and their incarerated parent through videoconferencing.
COI families have the opportunity to connect through state-of-the-art videoconferencing technology for monthly, 30 minute, visitation sessions at our COI care coordination centers. To date, all the families participating at Peacemakers Family Center are reporting very positive experiences. Children talk with their parents about their every day lives, their successes and challenges. They read books together and discuss homework. Pastor Linda Freeman recalls, "We were able to reunite one family who had not seen each other in years ... for the entire 30 minutes, all they could do was stare at each other on the screen and sob. What a reunion it was!"
Florida Department of Corrections notes transformational change in Inmates.
Through the success of COI's quarterly prison Bonding Visits and videoconferencing, COI has gained a foothold in the state, as the Florida Department of Corrections (FLDOC) has included COI in its Prisoner Re-Entry plans at 8 correctional institutions, and considers COI a best-practice program. When children visit their incarcerated parents, not only is the bond between child and parent is strengthened, but also the attitude and behavior of the incarcerated parent improves.
Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) conducted a study of the 248 inmates that participated in COI in 2011. FDOC noted that inmates participating in the COI program reduced their number of Disciplinary Reports (DRs) by 25% in 2011. With a DR, an inmate may be placed in solitary confinement for 30 to 60 days, and lose good behavior credits, resulting in a longer sentence. The 25% reduction in DRs for the 248 Inmates resulted in a documented cost savings of $100,000 for FDOC.
Children of Inmates is an intensive labor of love:
Reaching out – doing whatever it takes to make sure the children are safe and have their basic needs met.
Rebuilding – providing ongoing care coordination, support groups, and parental coaching for the incarcerated parents.
Reconnecting lives – reuniting families by taking children on quarterly prison Bonding Visits and providing Videoconferencing.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Children of Inmates' numerous successes have resulted in an increase in the number of child referrals and requests for visits and videoconferencing from Florida Prisons that cannot be fulfilled because of the lack of resources. And our waiting lists continue to grow. In order to accommodate more children, we need to purchase videoconferencing equipment.
We never want to turn away one child. Do you? Wouldn’t you like to be a part of sowing seeds into the future of the next generation and reuniting families?
Will you consider partnering with us? How can you help?
$2000 purchases videoconferencing equipment needed to communicate with one prison
$100 sponsors one bus trip for a child to visit their parent in prison
$80 purchases school uniforms for one child
$50 sponsors a week of Freedom School for one child ($200 for the entire month)
Will you stand with us in prayer, power, and financial partnership? 100% of your tax-deductable donation will go towards the Children of Inmates Program. Even the smallest amount helps.
Donate by Mail Make checks payable to Peacemakers PO BOX 680100 – Miami, FL 33168
Donate by Phone 786-888-HOPE (4673)
Peacemakers and the entire Service Network for Children of Inmates is making a miracle difference in the precious lives of children of inmates.