Sesame Street Reaches Out to Children with an Incarcerated Parent

sesamest09 04Sesame Street has just released new online and video content to help young children handle the complex emotions associated with having an incarcerated parent. The new kit titled, “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration” is available in English and Spanish and has multiple components including: a guide for parents and teachers, an “In My Family” storybook, a “How am I Feeling” activity, and much more.

The Sesame Workshop provides more details about the project:

“The number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years. Nearly 2.7 million children have a parent in state or federal prison, yet few resources exist to support young children and families coping with this life-changing circumstance. Children need to know that it is natural to feel a number of complex emotions – shame, anger, sadness – and that they should feel comfortable talking about them. Meanwhile their care-givers need help maintaining routines and finding ways to talk about incarceration that are age-appropriate for young children.

That’s why Sesame Workshop has created Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, a new outreach initiative.

This bilingual (English and Spanish), multimedia initiative includes material that can help young children with an incarcerated parent find support, comfort, and reduced levels of anxiety and sadness, as well as provides parents and caregivers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration. Experts who work with children and families affected by incarceration helped Sesame Workshop shape the messages and strategies at the center of the outreach kit. For instance, children with an incarcerated parent need to be reassured that they are still loved by those around them, and that what has happened is not their fault. Or, as Abby Cadabby sings, “You are not alone, we are here for you. We’ll help you through.”

ddLittle Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is part of a broader initiative designed to build resiliency in young children who are faced with difficult situations. Divorce, incarceration of a parent, and everyday challenging and stressful situations are all subjects Little Children, Big Challenges addresses. The broader initiative grew out of the work Sesame Workshop does to support military families and to help the children of American service-members adjust to the unique challenges and transitions that come with military life.

Sesame Workshop would not be able to bring support and comfort to children with incarcerated parents without the help of a number of invaluable partners. BAE Systems, The Prudential Foundation, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the USO, the Military Child Education Coalition, and The Florence V. Burden Foundation were all crucial in making this important initiative a reality.”