7 Helpful Programs for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Did you know that a variety of programs for children of incarcerated parents are available around the country?

Children with incarcerated parents have unique social and emotional needs. More than two million children have a parent in prison, and these programs work to lessen the trauma children must face.

Programs for Children of Incarcerated Parents

The following list includes a series of programs offered by nonprofit organizations, the government and local communities.

Angel Tree Program

Angel Tree Program connects parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts, for those who celebrate this holiday.

Angel Tree, a Prison Fellowship program, is nationwide. In most cases, local church volunteers purchase and deliver gifts to children in the name of their prisoner-parent.

If you are interested in participating as a gift-giver, you can call Prison Fellowship at 1-800-55-ANGEL. If you are seeking to connect Angel Tree with a child of an incarcerated parent, learn more on the website.

The Sesame Workshop

The Sesame Workshop, pioneered by the Administration for Children and Families group, includes multimedia, bilingual (English/Spanish) programs for children of incarcerated parents.

One of most beloved sources of early childhood development, Sesame Street, now offers these children and their families/caregivers a free toolkit. The resources are also valuable for the range of other professionals who interact with these children.

“Sesame Workshop believes the incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. The very act can bring about big changes and transitions. But Sesame Workshop feels there are simple everyday ways to help comfort a child and guide him or her through these tough moments.”


SKIP, Inc is a program focused on Saving Kids of Incarcerated Parents. With franchises around the country, this program works with youth and their caregivers to establish a supportive «circle» of positive relationships around every child.

They provide behavioral and academic empowerment programs for children who have one or both parents in prison. To inquire about a program in your area, click here.

Additionally, they offer an online community for teens ages 13-17.  Every Sunday evening at 6:00 PM Eastern, kids can share their thoughts and ideas with others who understand.

SKIP also offers a variety of community programming, printed and online resources, and volunteer training.

Assisting Families of Inmates

Assisting Families of Inmates, based in Virginia, specializes in providing programs for children of incarcerated parents. Specifically, they create opportunities for visiting an inmate parent.

Creating referrals to community resources and other services also helps families cope with incarceration. Their program, the Milk and Cookies Children’s Program (the MAC Program), ran for 11 years throughout Richmond.

Determine if you or someone you know can benefit from these services:

  • Children’s support group guided by an established, evaluated and copyrighted core curriculum
  • Information and groups for parents, caregivers, school personnel/administration and service providers on the unique needs of these children
  • Assistance to caregivers with resources that can help with financial, housing, transportation, employment and other concerns or family and household stressors
  • Support for healthy family reunification and reintegration when the incarcerated parent is released

While it is no longer running regularly, these resources are available on an as-needed basis and the AFOI foundation is dedicated to this population of children and their caregivers. Email family@afoi.org for more information.

Children of Inmates

Children of Inmates is a Florida-based organization that helps to keep the lines of communication open between children and their incarcerated parents.

According to their website, they “introduce children to their incarcerated parents, create positive memories and moments for the children, and facilitate rebuilding lasting bonds for a lifetime.”

With a focus on raising children to be happy, healthy and productive citizens, this organization provides a series of services like Bonding Visits.

As an advocate for stronger policies to strengthen the bond between children and their incarcerated parents, Children of Inmates helps to mitigate the trauma caused by the separation.

Hour Children

Hour Children is providing practical, comprehensive services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their families. Located in Long Island City, this organization has been helping their local community for 25 years.

Through prison- and community-based programs that support these fragile women and their families, this organization helps them work to transform their lives and achieve self-sufficiency.

In the past year:

  • Hour Children provided Supportive Housing to 199 women and children
  • 76 children benefited from the Hour Friend Indeed mentoring program.
  • 132 women benefited from Hour Working Women Reentry Program; making them more qualified for livable wage jobs.
  • Hour welcoming playrooms at Taconic and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities hosted more than 2,300 visits from children
  • 8,118 people used Hour Community Food Pantry


Foreverfamily is an Atlanta-based program that works to ensure that all children have the opportunity to be surrounded by the love of family.

This organization has several programs designed to nurture kids socially, emotionally, and educationally.

For younger children, an after-school program helps them cope psychologically with the effects of having their parents imprisoned by allowing them a safe place to interact with other children in similar situations.

Additional programs in the Atlanta-Metro area include Teen Leadership, Summer Camp and more.


Approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives. Programs like these help children learn the skills needed to adapt to that unfortunate fact.

Stories of support and love during a parent’s incarceration show that these programs are necessary and valuable.

Do you have an experience related to helping a child of an incarcerated parent you’d like to share with us? Please share with us on our Facebook page.

Posted In: Blog


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