Vermont Program Helps Children Cope with Having a Mother Behind Bars
Date:  03-20-2015

Eighty percent of Vermont’s incarcerated women have children
We know that children whose parents are in prison face problems that can wreak havoc in their young lives. Not only are the children denied the presence and comfort of a mom or dad, but they often face stigmatization, causing their sense of self-worth to plummet.

Since mothers are usually the primary caregiver of young children, it is a traumatic experience when kids lose their mother to incarceration. Gone is the most important person in their lives to guard them, nourish their bodies and minds, and push them to succeed.

No one can ever take the place of mom, but for children of incarcerated mothers in one county in Vermont there is a program that steps in and helps make the whole scary situation less traumatic.

The Stowe Reporter states that 80 percent of incarcerated women in Vermont are mothers. And, according to the Reporter, the Lamoille Valley Community Justice Program has done remarkable work in providing assistance to stabilize the lives of children of incarcerated mothers.

The Reporter explains, “The program focuses on four main areas: health and wellness, school success, community connections, and home environment.”

Participants in the program are provided with a variety of services from medical care to transportation. The services pay off. Ninety-one percent of the families connected with the program did not have children taken away and placed in state custody.

Of equal importance, the Reporter writes, “95 percent of children in the program avoided getting into legal trouble themselves, compared to just 24 to 61 percent in studies of other juveniles with incarcerated parents.” The success of the program calls for it to be replicated in other counties throughout Vermont, and beyond.

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