Nearly seven million people are under correctional supervision in the U.S.; more than two million of them are in a jail or prison. If you want to know what those numbers mean for the American family, consider this: The makers of Sesame Street decided to design and release an educational kit titled “Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.”

The kit is “an educational outreach initiative for families with children (ages 3 – 8) who are coping with a parent’s incarceration.” Can you imagine telling a five-year-old about prison? “Our resources,” say Sesame Streeters, “provide talking points and tools to help families manage the changes resulting from this situation and to find comfort in one another.” {snip}

Here are some of the kit’s tips for parents and/or caretakers who are not in prison:

  • Let your child know what to expect during everyday activities. Tell her who will take her to school and who will pick her up.


More tips: “Let your child know that the incarceration is not his fault….Let him know he’s not alone.” And here are tips for preserving a relationship between an incarcerated parent and child:

  • Phone calls are a great way to keep in touch. Help your child think of things to tell her parent. Give her a picture of the parent to hold during the call.
  • Use pen and paper to write letters. If your child can’t yet write, ask her to tell you what to write; she can draw pictures to go with the words.
  • Televisiting can be helpful for some children. Sharing an everyday routine such as storytime during your televisit is a great way to be together.

The kit also includes a video episode about a young muppet named Alex whose dad is in jail. Check out the entire kit here. {snip}


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