A non-profit organization, Get on the Bus, invites caregivers and families to "Get on the Bus" for Mother's Day trips to see incarcerated moms, and Father's Day journeys to see dad. On the bus trip home following a four-hour visit, each child receives a teddy bear with a letter from their parent and post-event counseling.
Feelings and Emotions
When a family member, such as a mom or dad, goes to jail or prison, it may be very
difficult for everyone involved. For some children, the experience can be emotionally
devastating, while for others it is less serious.
Sometimes it is a relief.
The child's age, understanding of the situation, and the reaction of others, particularly
of family Members, all play a part in the overall impact the experience will have on the
Children may have different feelings, and sometimes even several feelings at once, or
one right after the other. Some children might feel sadness, fear, guilt, disbelief,
anxiety, anger, and/or powerlessness. It is important to help children understand and
work through their feelings.
Children of incarcerated parents need:
• To know that parent's incarceration is not their fault.
• To know what is happening to their parent.
• To know if they can have contact with their parent, and if so, when and how.
• To know where and with whom they will be living and going to school.
• To know what will stay the same and what will change while their parent is incarcerated.
• To know it is OK to still love their parent, and it is OK to be angry sometimes, too.
• To be encouraged to express, in safe and healthy ways, their feelings.
• To visit and maintain contact with incarcerated parents when permitted and appropriate.
• To have stability and consistency in their living situations and daily routines.
• To feel safe.
• To have fun.
• To realize that people
Many people are
ashamed to talk about having someone close to
them in jail or prison. It may reassure children
to tell them that:
1. Two of every 100 children have had a parent in jail or prison.
2. You didn't do anything wrong. People should not try to make you feel
guilty or ashamed.
3. Sometimes, it is easier not to talk about a parent who is incarcerated, but
you may never learn that there are plenty of other kids in the same
situation. Talking about it with people you trust may help.
4. It's OK to love your Mom or Dad who is in jail or prison, even if some
people don't think you should.
It is very
important to provide children with a
non-judgmental, relaxed, unhurried, and
safe place to express their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs about why their parent was
It is important to help children realize:
• There are negative consequences when a parent breaks the law.
• They are not responsible for either the parent's behavior or the consequences of