2018 Community Partnership Award
HONORABLE MENTION AWARD RECIPIENT
Family Services Programs at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
An estimated 1.3 million children across America have a mother in the criminal justice system. When the prison door slams shut on one of those moms, it creates an echo that reverberates through their kids’ lives as well. In fact, research shows that children of mothers who are incarcerated face a range of negative effects, including an increased risk of anxiety and stress, troubled attachments and developmental regressions.
Established in 1986 and incorporated six years later, Hour Children is a leading provider of prison‐ and community‐based services for women who are currently or formerly incarcerated and their children. In 2013, they entered into a groundbreaking partnership with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYSDOCCS) to enhance and administer its long‐standing prison‐based programs at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, the largest women’s prison in New York.
Hour Children oversees the prison’s Nursery program – the only one of its kind in New York that allows mothers who are incarcerated to live with their babies for up to 18 months. It also has instituted three groundbreaking programs: The Teen program enables up to 42 adolescents to visit monthly with their mothers at Bedford Hills, while the Overnight and Summer programs provide extended opportunities for children to spend time with their mothers during the day, while staying with a host family in the evenings. In addition, Hour Children now provides transportation to bring families together, advocacy, parenting education, case management and mentoring.
“We named Hour Children to acknowledge the most important hours that shape the life of a child with an incarcerated mother: the hour of their mother’s arrest, the hour of their visit, and the hour of her release,” said Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, Executive Director. “Last year, Hour Children hosted more than 2,000 visits between mothers who are incarcerated and their children. We also facilitated more than 2,000 advocacy sessions, parenting classes, and case-management support sessions for moms in prison. Together, we’re working to end the cycle of intergenerational incarceration by helping these women and their children to strengthen their bonds and build healthy, independent and secure lives.”