SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The State of California has allocated $500,000 to the County of Santa Clara Office of Diversion and Reentry Services for fellowship programs benefitting children of clients at four Faith-Based Reentry Resource Centers.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that half of U.S. state and federal prisoners have at least one minor child accounting for hundreds of thousands of children impacted by incarceration. These hidden victims suffer a variety of challenges such as psychological strain, antisocial behavior, suspension, or expulsion from school, economic hardship, and criminal activity.
“Millions of minors in this country have lost parents to incarceration creating trauma, breaking up families, causing displacement, and a whole host of social and emotional challenges,” said State Sen. Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward). “Personal attention, positive activities, and strong mentors uplift children’s lives, and are even more crucial for children with incarcerated parents. Funding to support some of our most vulnerable youth makes a huge impact in their lives and their communities, as we are all affected by how our youngest residents are treated.”
Four Faith-Based Reentry Resource Centers, which the County’s Office of Diversion and Reentry Services contracts with for client services and case management, will receive $125,000 to hire a fellow for each center. They will develop new and will improve existing programs to support the children of clients in areas such as tutoring, one-on-one mentoring, crisis intervention, counseling, parent, and children- focused groups, extracurricular activities, school-related activities like science camp, and links to other services.
“Even before the Reentry Resource Centers existed, our faith-based community organizations were doing the work of supporting families affected by incarceration,” said President of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, Susan Ellenberg. “Our County’s partnership with these organizations, formalized by the Faith Reentry Collaborative in 2012, has helped thousands of individuals and families in times of great need. We commend the State Senate for recognizing that track record and for allocating resources to these organizations to provide opportunities for the children of families who struggle immeasurably from the loss of family members to the justice system.”
Each of the four Faith-Based Reentry Resource Centers serve an average of 85 clients who have approximately 48 children within their families. The centers will each hire an individual who has formerly been incarcerated to provide programs and services to the families.
“The Faith-Based Reentry Centers have a long history of hiring people who have lived experience with incarceration,” said Rebecca Cardenaz, Program Manager of the County’s Faith-Based Reentry Program, operated by the Office of Diversion and Reentry Services. “Having lived through many of the same traumas, these individuals are uniquely equipped to relate to our client’s families. They will develop and implement meaningful programs that will empower our young people to envision the possibilities and act on opportunities to grow in positive directions.”
Parents in prison and their minor children: Survey of prison inmates, 2016. https://bjs.ojp.gov/library/publications/parents-prison-and-their-minor-children-survey-prison-inmates-2016
ABOUT THE REENTRY RESOURCE CENTERS
The County of Santa Clara Reentry Resource Centers in San Jose and Gilroy strive to build safer communities by providing resources to formerly incarcerated and other justice-involved individuals, helping them heal and reintegrate back into the community. Using a one-stop-shop model, the RRCs collaborate with many community-based entities and State and County Departments such as the Sheriff’s Office, Behavioral Health Services Department, Social Services Agency, Adult Probation, Office of the Public Defender, Valley Homeless Healthcare Program, Office of Supportive Housing, Pretrial Services, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and several non-profits such as the Faith-Based Reentry Collaborative. Representatives of these organizations work together to provide resources and services such as referrals for mental health and substance use treatment, public benefit enrollment, counseling, health care, education, record expungement services, employment referrals, and housing and shelter information.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.
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