Strengthening Families Month
One in 28 children in the United States has an incarcerated parent, which means over 9,800 children in New Hampshire have one or both parents in prison or jail. 2014 will be the third year the Family Connections Center of the NH Department of Corrections has partnered with Child and Family Services’ Camp Spaulding to create a summer program called “Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIP) Camp.” This program combines the excitement and challenges of a typical overnight camp with field trips into the prison so children can visit with their parents. While at the prison, children spend quality time with their parents in a relaxed environment creating pieces of art and priceless memories. This “prison camp” is modeled after a camp created by Carol Fennelly, Director of Hope House in Washington, DC.
The Family Connections Center (FCC) has supported children of inmates and their incarcerated parents since it opened in 1998, when it was one of the first family support programs to be located in a state prison. The FCC has partnered with many agencies, including NH Child and Family Services, UNH Family Studies, UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Division of Children, Youth and Families.
To create awareness for this unique and often forgotten population of children, the FCC, Child and Family Services, the University of New Hampshire, Kimball Jenkins Estate, and the NH State Council on the Arts have partnered to create an art exhibit showcasing life-sized murals created by children and parents at the CIP camp over the last two years. This is the first art exhibit of its type in NH and the 2nd in the nation. During this two-and-a-half-week exhibit, workshops for professionals will also be offered on topics that relate to working with children whose parents are incarcerated.
Crafts and furniture created and donated by inmates will be on display at the art exhibit and will be available in an on-line auction benefiting a scholarship program that allows children attend the 2014 CIP camp. Click here to participate in the on-line auction. To date, all CIP camp sessions, which include 12 days at Camp Spaulding and 2 days at the FCC, have been offered to participating children at no cost. All donations and funds from the auction will go towards paying for children’s 2014 CIP camp scholarships.
Click here for more information on all Strengthening Families Month events taking place in April.
Carol Fennelly, Guest Speaker
Carol Fennelly will be the guest speaker at the exhibition's Artist's Reception on Wednesday, April 9th. For nearly four decades Carol Fennelly has been a voice for dispossessed and forgotten people in the nation’s capital. For 17 years she worked and lived at the Community for Creative Non-Violence homeless shelters, creating innovative programs and affecting public policy on homeless and housing issues.
In 1998 Washington, DC’s prison was closing, and thousands of prisoners were being shipped far from home, Carol started Hope House to help fathers in prison stay connected to their children and families. Through Hope House’s Father to Child Programs, thousands of fathers have been able to play an important role in the lives of their children, even from behind bars.
Hope House helps incarcerated men stay in touch with their children through teleconferencing, video-book reading, and a camp that children attend. The five-day summer camp allows children to spend time with their fathers without the usual restrictions imposed on visitors. Surveys have shown that after participating in the programs, children read more, do better in school and have improved relationships with their fathers. In October 2012, Hope House received the Chapman Award from the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice. In June 2013, the White House honored Carol Fennelly as a Champion of Change who has dedicated herself to supporting children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.
In the fall of 2013, Carol was one of seven recipients of the Purpose Prize from Encore.org, an award for people 60 and older who have started new careers that contribute to the social good. In February, the Global Fund for Children named Hope House a 2014 Global Catalyst Award winner. The Global Fund for Children works to transform the lives of the world's most vulnerable children. Hope House was one of 6 winners from the United States.