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Supporting Children and Families Affected by Incarceration

If you missed the OLIS Continuing Education session on November 16, “Supporting Children and Families Affected by Incarceration and the RI Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative,” read on to find out how your library can become involved in this very important initiative. Ken Findlay, Interdepartmental Project Manager at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) lead the presentation providing participants with information on the incarceration rate in RI and the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative.

TeLisa Richardson, LSCW, Parenting Coordinator at the RIDOC works with inmates and their families through the Books Beyond program, which allows an incarcerated parent to read and record books onto CD's that are then mailed to their child or children. Many inmates have Ken Findlayyoung children. It is very difficult to assure a young child that their loved one is okay. They are curious about what is happening to them and want to know how their mom, dad, or sibling is living. This type of trauma can cause a young child to fill with anxiety that affects their behavior and learning. Having the recording of the parent's voice reading aloud to them provides comfort and allows children to stay connected to their family member easing the pain of separation and the anxiety that interferes with their development.

As librarians, we also have the A.T. Wallopportunity to help these children and their families. The Providence Community Library recently began a pilot called Books Beyond Plus which ties into the program at the RIDOC. When the RIDOC mails a recorded book to a child that lives in Providence, the package includes a Golden Ticket that invites the child to visit one of the neighborhood libraries to receive another book and a tour of the library to learn more about the programs and services there to support them. Find out more about Books Beyond Plus by contacting Michelle Novello or Cheryl Space.

The RIDOC recently received a grant from the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence to purchase sets of approximately 8 children’s books about families with incarcerated individuals for distribution to public libraries. Danielle Margarida, OLIS Youth Services Coordinator, will be working with the RIDOC to distribute these book sets once they are available. To support children and families impacted by incarceration and to find out more about the Books Beyond program, contact Danielle Margarida at OLIS or Ken Findlay and TeLisa Richardson at RIDOC. The RIDOC also has other programs for children and families of those incarcerated and would be happy to talk with librarians about their services.Books

For more information on the impact of incarceration and the RI Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, see the materials below. Incarceration affects every community. Libraries in every city and town across the state are uniquely positioned to offer services that help transform the lives of their residents.

Special thanks to Director, A.T. Wall and the RI Department of Corrections staff for leading this initiative and for understanding the importance of libraries.