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Children of Incarcerated Parents Booklet
How to explain...
                               Jails and Prisons
                                                                ...to Children A Caregiver's Guide

Link to Children of Incarcerated Parents Project click here 

What is this booklet about?
When parents are arrested or put in jail or prison, the children are often scared, confused, and upset.  This is not a rare event.  In 1999, one out of 50 children in the US had a parent in state or federal prison.
Often people don’t talk about having a family member in prison because it is very personal information.  Children, though, may have a lot of questions.
This booklet may help explain to children and families what it is like to have a mother, father, or other close family member who is incarcerated. 

Who is this booklet for?

This booklet is designed to help moms, dads and caregivers answer children´s questions about jail and prison.  When children and families receive accurate information, they can understand and cope with some of the stress they may experience when a relative goes to jail or prison.

Most children are curious about jails and prisons, and many adults don´t know what these institutions are like.  The Oregon Department of Corrections has put together some questions and answers to help tell the difference between myths and facts.
This booklet is written to reassure families of inmates.  It promotes open and honest communication between children and adults.  Ideally, even children old enough to read it on their own will read it with their caregiver.  Children too young to comprehend it on their own can also benefit if an adult talks with them about the topics in this booklet.  These young children need to be guided by adults through the experience of talking in an emotionally safe, comforting, and nurturing way.
Questions answered in this booklet are:
1.    Why did my Mom or Dad go to jail or prison?
2.    What will happen to me?
3.    Is it my fault?
4.    Will I go to jail or prison, too?
5.    Where do people in jail or prison live?
6.    What do people in jail or prison wear?
7.    Where do people in jail or prison eat, and what kind of food?
8.    Do people in jail or prison have a TV, library, bathroom/shower and can they go outside?
9.    Do people in jail or prison work?
10.  How do people in jail or prison spend their time?
11.  Are people in jail or prison safe and healthy?
12.  Can I see or talk to Mom or Dad when they are in jail or prison? Do I have to?
13.  What do I tell other people?
14.  How can I learn when my parent will come home?
15.  Where can I get help?
16.  Notes for the Caregiver
17.  Notes for Children
18.  How do I feel today?
Download the pdf file containing the booklet.
Children’s Justice Alliance