DES MOINES, Iowa — In Iowa, 58,000 children, or 8% of the child population, have or have had a parent in prison. Officials say incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence. Government officials are holding a lecture Thursday to teach educators how to help those children cope.
“Children experience a variety of emotional problems with a parent in prison, and plus there’s a stigma of having a parent in prison. And finally, often times they’re living in poverty so it’s kind of a triple whammy,” Central Iowa Works Director Pat Steele said.
Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds designated April 22nd to the 26th as “Re-Entry Awareness Week” to help draw attention to the efforts to help formerly incarcerated people become productive members of their communities. Steele said right now, Iowa doesn’t have many services or supports for children with parental incarceration. The event Thursday is hoping to teach schools how to be that support.
“We’ll have children who have had a parent in prison talk about their experiences and what the school and others could have done for them that would have made it easier,” Steele said. “And no one is blaming the schools, but this is a problem that we need to address as a state and make sure that the kids who have done no wrong don’t suffer the consequences of a parent in prison.”
The ‘Children Left Behind’ lecture is Thursday April 25th from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Wallace State Office Building Auditorium. It is free and you can register here.