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Families through the Bars

by Emmalie Dropkin
July/August 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/families--through-the-bars/5022422/

Early childhood is often seen as a worthy time to invest because any obstacles children face are not of their own creation; but anyone working with young children knows that they come from families who must also have their needs addressed in order for those ­children to be successful.

Children with incarcerated parents face a unique set of experiences that can include the trauma of separation and the loss of long-term relationships. In many communities, Head Start programs have recognized that children with incarcerated caregivers are the most at-risk, and with Head Start's 50-year history of changing family trajectories these programs are working to build strong relationships and stop intergenerational cycles.

In 1999, Puget Sound Educational School District (ESD) worked with the Washington Corrections Center for Women to create the Residential Parenting Program, a program that remains the only one of its kind. Through the program, pregnant women sentenced to fewer than 30 months in minimum-security facilities who meet a set of criteria are able to keep their babies with them in order to form strong bonds in a safe environment. During pregnancy, the women receive Early Head Start home visits from the Puget Sound ESD program, and the babies later attend an ...

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