School-based programs for youth with incarcerated parents
“ROOTS gets kids that have been incarcerated, or kids with parents locked up, and teaches them how to stay away from jail. It’s a class where we can speak our minds about anything. It’s very helpful—not just another boring class.” --Eddy Mendez, ROOTS at Balboa '11
Children of incarcerated parents are largely invisible within the school setting. Anxious and worried about stigma, such children are silent about their experience, leaving teachers unaware of the stress affecting them and leaving them without vital support and community. Such support is necessary to help them break through the shame and isolation, cope productively with their situation and create a positive future for themselves.
WHAT WE DO
ROOTS provides children of incarcerated parents with the support and tools to question and interrupt the intergenerational cycle of incarceration and violence. Using expressive arts, we provide a safe space for them to share and process their experiences, to make healthy choices, and to understand and analyze the circumstances of being a child of incarcerated parents, thus increasing their chances of succeeding at school socially and academically. The program helps them increase their self-awareness and positive self-image and allows them to belong to a caring community of youth facing similar issues.
ROOTS provides a menu of strategies that can be adapted to specific school sites as in-school elective classes and/or after-school programs. ROOTS combines:
- counseling and case management
- opportunities for leadership development, community engagement, skill building and creative expression through the arts
- support for the youths’ caregivers
There's A Part of Me Gone: Stories from Youth with Incarcerated Parents (link to publications page)
60-page booklet of poetry and stories by young people about parental incarceration
Manijeh Fata, Youth Programs Manager,