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Youth Workers Train To Help Children Of Incarcerated Parents

VOA's Greta Compton talks to youth workers in Martinsville about the impact of incarceration on children's wellbeing.

A small group of youth workers in the state had the opportunity to learn more about how to help these children whose emotional and mental wellbeing is often impacted.

One in 10 Indiana children have a parent who is incarcerated. That’s one of the highest rates in the nation.

The training session in Martinsville hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute and led by Volunteers of America’s Greta Compton. The talk provided insight into the growing problem of mass incarceration and family health.

Compton says youth providers on the frontlines can help shape the conversation.

“Be there when you say you’re going to be there, do what you say you are going to do and show them that adults can be safe and consistent,” says Compton. “Also just let them express their feelings because a lot of times it is embarrassing.”

Compton leads a program that works to reconnect family with people before they are released from prison and uses wrap-around services to address root problems.

READ MORE: Childhood Researchers Study Health Effects Of A Parent Behind Bars

She says stigma impacts progress.

“Most people who are in prison are not monsters, many are very sick in their addiction and it’s easy to demonize,” Compton says.

Many children from these families experience trauma, abuse and neglect that can lead to mental and physical health issues.

Youth workers were urged to help children to build connections, routines and security.

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