Focusing on Children With an Incarcerated Parent by Judi Goozh and Sue Jeweler

Judi Goozh is a retired award-winning speech-language pathologist. Sue Jeweler is a retired award-winning, Who’s Who listed teacher. Judi and Sue were nominated for the 2013 White House “Champions of Change” award. Their books, Tell Me About When Moms and Dads Go To Jail and Tell Me About When Moms and Dads Come Home From Jail come out on May 21. For more information or to purchase your copies, click here.

Our educational experience taught us to “get to know the whole child” in our work.  As teachers, we found children struggling academically, socially or emotionally as a consequence of their family situations.  If there was a divorce or death or deployment, the school counselor always provided us with resources.  Unfortunately, there were no materials for children if they had an incarcerated parent.  Thus began our mission to create books that would support these children, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

Children, who are victims of their parent’s crimes, are often afraid and confused by the changes in their own lives.  Research showed us that children with an incarcerated parent are impacted socially (acting out behaviors, friendship problems, communication), emotionally (depression, anger, confusion, feelings of abandonment), and academically (attention, concentration, learning issues, poor grades).  We learned that on any given day more than 7 million children may have a parent in prison or jail or under parole or probation supervision and that, without effective intervention strategies, as many as 70 percent of children of incarcerated parents may become involved with the criminal justice system.  We also learned that parental incarceration is associated with a two-fold increase in risk for mental health problems in affected children and that multiple issues face families when the formerly incarcerated person returns home.

Our book, TELL ME ABOUT WHEN MOMS AND DADS GO TO JAIL, presents a scenario about a child who witnesses the arrest of a parent and includes questions that are asked by the child and answered throughout the process from arrest to incarceration.  The second book, TELL ME ABOUT WHEN MOMS AND DADS COME HOME FROM JAIL, tells a different story about a child who finds out his dad is arrested and, after spending time in jail, is coming back home.  The child has many questions about what will happen and, throughout the story, his questions are answered.   Even though the stories are about a child and his dad, the same story, questions, and answers are true for a child whose mom is arrested and, after spending time in jail, comes home.  Both books include activities for children and tips for parents and professionals on topics including: jail visitation guidelines, handling conflict, communication strategies, and a list of resources and further reading.

 

In addition to writing the books, we have given presentations to educators, counselors, psychologists, social workers, criminal justice personnel, pediatricians, child welfare personnel, foster parents, public librarians, and White House senior staff members.  We help audience members recognize the fact that they may have contact with children and families through their jobs but also as neighbors and even within their families.  Our message includes actions we all can take to make a difference for these children:

  • Re-think our own preconceived ideas and stereotypical attitudes about crime, the incarcerated parent, the family and the idea that the child will probably follow in this downward path.
  • Educate others.
  • Be compassionate.  Help break the cycle – do not assume nothing can be done.
  • Make sure that children who have an incarcerated parent are properly assessed and supported.
  • Give appropriate support during the initial period of adjustment and throughout the process of reunification.
  • Prompt open discussions with either the parent or the child in a safe, caring, and confidential way and have the child or parent talk about their experiences, and help them to deal with the emotions and consequences that follow incarceration.
  • Encourage the parent to come to the school to tell the counselor, the principal, the teacher or the case manager that his/her spouse has been arrested.  In addition, it is important to get the parent to give permission to talk to the child.
  • Encourage and investigate cross collaboration among different agencies in the community such as social service providers, pediatricians, and other mental health agencies.

It has been said, “A man’s family serves his time with him.” Our goal has been to build awareness and sensitivity to the situation that children of incarcerated parents find themselves in, through no fault of their own.

Visit our website to learn more about this issue and our work:

http://www.creativefamilyprojects.org

 

Child Migration to the UK: Hopes and Realities

In this extract from ‘Fortress Britain?’ Pia Jolliffe and Samuel Burke draw attention to child migrants’ vulnerability and ask for the impact of the Amendment 115 to Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. 

‘I was 12 when my mother paid people smugglers $8,000 to take my brother and me from Afghanistan to Europe. After my father and grandfather were killed by US armed forces the Taliban put pressure on us to become suicide bombers. Drastic as it was, sending us away was the only option my mother could see to keep us alive. I then began a 12-month odyssey across Europe. I was separated from my brother almost immediately and incarcerated three times. I jumped from a speeding train in Bulgaria, nearly breaking both my legs, and almost drowned in a tiny overcrowded boat off the coast of Greece. When I arrived in the UK, I was still only 13, but almost unrecognisable from the child I had been. That’s what hunger, cruelty and brutality does to you.’

In his book The Lightless Sky Gulwali Passaray describes the painful process of age-assessment upon his arrival in the UK. Although he was only 13 years old, Kent Social Services concluded that he was 16 and a half years of age because of his mature appearance and clever answers to their interview questions. As a result of the incorrect birth date he had been given, he was only given discretionary leave to remain in the UK for one year. At the age of 17 he was expected to leave the country or to be deported. Because the Home Office insisted on him being 16 years old, he had to share accommodation with adults instead of with children. Unable to accept this injustice, Gulwali made every effort to prove his real age and eventually – with the help of the educational institution Starting Point – managed to have his age re-assessed and his real birthday recognized.

In conversation with Pia Jolliffe, Gulwali reiterates that the age-assessment has huge consequences for child migrants’ lives. Those who are considered above 18 years are deprived of all sorts of opportunities like education and foster families. They are either kept in detention, deported or decide to go underground.

Continue reading

Stress: Being Masculine About It Doesn’t Really Help

stress

Michael Maitland is the author of Out Of The Madhouse and is an ambassador for the teen mental health charity, Stem 4. He has struggled with mental ill-health over the years. Here he writes about stress and how it can have a lot of negative side effects if you don’t talk about it. 

As a young man I suffered from stress, anxiety and depression and ended up in hospital and the Priory for the best part of six months. I’m feeling better now but, looking back, I can see that much of my mental ill-health came from feeling stressed and trying to be ‘a man’ about it; i.e. bottling it all up.

The NHS defines stress as, ‘The feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope.’ That sums it up well as does, ‘Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self-esteem.’

Continue reading

Fifteen Things They Forgot to Tell You About Autism

Co-editor of the not for profit parenting magazine, AuKids, Debby Elley has now written her first parenting guide, Fifteen Things They Forgot to Tell You About Autism: The Stuff That Transformed My Life as an Autism Parent. Here on our blog, she describes the book and its aims in her own words. 

I’ll let you into a secret. It’s not really fifteen things, it’s a lot more. My son Bobby calls it Fifteen Things YOU TOTALLY MISSED About Autism, but the thing is, you’d be forgiven for missing them. No-one tells you what it’s important to know. You sort of find out the hard way. That is, with time and effort and sometimes a few tears.

Fifteen Things… is the sort of book that I could only write having amassed a decent body of evidence from my own experience of raising twins. It’s now 12 years since they were diagnosed and I’m one of those parents who can look back with the benefit of hindsight and tell myself where I went wrong. That’s no fun at all, so I thought that I’d prefer instead to tell those at the beginning of this learning curve where they can go right.

Fifteen Things

Continue reading

Are you feeling stressed out by exams?

Try this simple worksheet to help you defeat your exam stress gremlin.  Rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy, it will train you to change the way you think and starve him of the stress-related thoughts and feelings on which he feeds.  Ideal for young people sitting major exams, in turn it will enable you to achieve better results.

Click here to download the resource

This extract is taken from Kate Collins-Donnelly’s Starving the Exam Stress Gremlin, and is the latest instalment in her bestselling and award-winning Starve the Gremlin series. Full of fun activities based on cognitive behavioural therapy, the Gremlin series teaches young people to manage common emotional and behavioural difficulties such as anger, depression and anxiety.

Sarah Naish discusses therapeutic parenting as a best practice for helping children overcome trauma and attachment difficulties

Therapeutic parentingSarah Naish discusses how her training as a social worker and standard parenting strategies did not equip her to deal with parenting her five adopted children who had suffered trauma. She therefore set about implementing a therapeutic parenting approach which she has since taught to other foster carers and adoptive parents around the country to great success. Her article has been adapted from her new book, The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting, which covers 60 common problems parents face, from acting aggressively to difficulties with sleep, with advice on what might trigger these issues, and how to respond. 

I am a therapeutic parent and I make no apologies for this.  I am doing what my children need me to do to help them become functioning members of society, to be able to show kindness, build relationships and become effective parents themselves one day.

I first started fostering in 1987.  Things were a little different then and foster carers were not very well supported.  Moving three children from fostering to adoption inspired me to begin a career in social work.  In 1992 I qualified as a social worker and began working with children and families, as well as fostering and adoption. Continue reading

How art therapy can help with children’s sleep patterns

art therapy children sleep patternsElitsa Velikova, the author of Art Therapy Cards for Children, writes about how art therapy can help with children’s sleep patterns and shares some ‘creative’ ideas on how to help little ones feel safe and secure before bedtime.

 

Nightmares BEFORE bedtime
by Elitsa Velikova

Mom is tired. She is thinking “one more hour and the children are going to bed”. Then she will finally have her cup of tea, spend time with her husband, talk to a friend or just switch off and relax.

 So, she helps her children brush their teeth, puts their pyjamas on, and off they go to bed ready for a bedtime story!
“Mom, can we please have one more story?”
“Mommy, can I have a glass of water?”
“Mom, I have to pee!”
And so on, until finally, an hour later, mom is sleeping in their beds, while they are still wide awake.

Why is falling asleep such a difficult task for many small children?
What can we do to help them feel relaxed and safe?

Many parents tend to lose their patience when their children start their demands when they are just about to fall asleep. They often think the child is on a mission to torture them, but what they might not realise is that the child can perceive sleep as a ‘separation’ from the parents and can consequently feel anxious. Continue reading

Seeing the World Through Our Eyes- book extract

We’re coming up on the end of Autism Awareness Month! Each week we’ve shared a series of blog posts on books by, for, and about autistic adults. This week, we’ve pulled an extract from Deborah Lipsky’s thoughtful book, From Anxiety to Meltdown: How Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Deal with Anxiety, Experience Meltdowns, Manifest Tantrums, and How You Can Intervene Effectively

Drawing on her own experience and using examples to explain how autistic people think, the author distinguishes between meltdowns and tantrums, showing how each begins, and most importantly, how to identify triggers and prevent outbursts from happening in the first place. 

“To fully comprehend why we have such strong negative reactions to seemingly minor daily disruptions one must understand how the autistic population perceives the world. We will look at the core ‘issues’ of autism from the perspective of someone who lives it daily. Actually I don’t like using the term ‘core issues’ because it seems to have a negative overtone. Let’s instead view them as ‘core character traits.’ It is paramount that you the reader should not misunderstand the word ‘autism’ to truly appreciate the insights this book will offer. On the television and in the media autism mostly carries a negative connotation. It is a ‘disease,’ ‘disorder,’ ‘lifelong burden,’ and, my favorite, an ‘epidemic.’ Many people have a stereotypical view of an autistic individual as a non verbal child who rocks incessantly, huddles in a corner flapping their hands, and seems to wail when asked to do something. Society has not fully accepted the higher functioning person with autism and Asperger’s as an individual who despite looking physically ‘normal’ does have limitations and special needs. I find this especially true in the school system. So many parents have lamented to me that, despite a diagnosis of autism, their child is not seen as ‘autistic’ because they are doing well academically and therefore isn’t offered the reasonable accommodations necessary to provide a safe learning environment for them. When I am called in for consultations due to ‘behavioral issues’ by the school, most often these behaviors are the direct result of a lack of understanding of the child’s particular needs as well as an incorrect understanding of what autism truly is…”

To read the full chapter, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about this book visit our WEBSITE, or browse a selection of our books written for autistic adults HERE.

Lucy the Octopus: A 12 Year Journey


A few words from author Richy K. Chandler on how the story of Lucy the Octopus came to be.

Okay, so Lucy the Octopus has been a big part of my life for many years now. She popped into my head while doodling around twelve years ago and her personality took shape in a mini-comic, brought out by my self-publishing imprint, Tempo Lush, in 2007.

Eventually Lucy became a constant companion as I wrote and drew 212 of her weekly strips starting in 2012, appearing online and collected in five comic-books over four years.

Lucy’s adventures were even turned into a mini-musical, full of projected images from the comic, performed at Gosh Comics in Soho to mark the final episode of the comic going online in October 2016. Hopefully that won’t be the last performance!

I’ve had an amazing response from readers around the world, relating to Lucy’s struggles and enjoying her story. I’ve also had the pleasure of talking about Lucy at many events for adults, as well as to thousands of children and teenagers in dozens of schools, libraries and hospitals around the U.K.

So, of course, the idea of a printed collection of the whole Lucy story is something I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. Jessica Kingsley Publishers had published my children’s picture book You Make Your Parents Super Happy! and, through it’s imprint Singing Dragon, also released my graphic novel When Are You Going to Get a Proper Job?! I was thrilled when they agreed to publish a beautifully produced hardback collection of the strip, complete with new material.

Giving extra value to the collection are special online activity sheets for PSHE and creativity focusing on some of the themes of Lucy’s story: bullying and prejudice, available through a special code found in the book.

Hope you get to know and care for Lucy.  She really needs it!

Find out more, and buy the book here.

Click here for a sneak peak of chapter one!

Chapter One from children’s book Lucy the Octopus!

Welcome to Stoneydip where everyone is an Octopus!

…Okay not everyone, there is Puffy, Lucy’s cute (yet poisonous) pet pufferfish.

Lucy the Octopus

Lucy is an incurably uncool teen, and an octopus. For no reason at all she is very unpopular, and even her parents don’t like her! The only friend who will hang out with her in public is Puffy, her pet puffer fish. But Lucy’s haters don’t know that she is secretly an awesome guitarist, and she has been picked to join everyone’s favourite local band, Lamington Fuzz. While Lucy rocks at doing her own thing, her classmates realise that spending time with the “cool kids” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Delve into the depths of the sea and explore chapter 1 of Lucy the Octopus‘ tragic (yet often hilarious) life below!

Find out more about Lucy the Octopus, and buy the book here

Click here to read about the 12 year journey it took to bring the book to life