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Parenting After Incarceration: How Reentry Programs Help Single Parents

Reentering society after incarceration is a major life adjustment. For single parents who have children to care for, the process of transitioning back into family life can be very stressful. Reentry programs offer much assistance to help this transition become a lot smoother. Reentry programs help single parents by assisting them with securing gainful employment, attaining stable housing, making valuable community connections, and rebuilding healthy family relationships.

Research shows that approximately 2.7 million U.S. children have a parent who is incarcerated. Children whose parents are incarcerated face a greater risk for behavioral health issues and depression. Establishing a healthy parental relationship after incarceration can be challenging without assistance, but reentry programs can support this effort by connecting the family with helpful community resources like family therapy and youth mentorship. Many reentry programs offer support groups for children to have a safe space to express themselves when discussing the experience of an incarcerated parent can be taboo in school and other environments. With their parent out of the home for extended periods of time, children of incarcerated parents often act out and engage in risky behaviors as a response to feeling a lack of stability. Witnessing a parent strive to rebuild a productive life by participating in a reentry program can be the perfect start to forging a healthy parental relationship. It shows the child that the parent is putting in a genuine effort to create stability for themselves and the family, adding value to the parent's role of being a trustworthy caretaker despite their time away.

Being able to provide is a top priority for most parents. With reentry programs emphasizing the importance of employment after incarceration, parents gain access to a stable income that can help them to meet basic needs for themselves and their children. There are a variety of housing organizations that work with reentry programs that are beneficial for single parents as well. Providing a safe space for families to live is helpful for reducing recidivism, while giving the child a sense of security and belonging. Reentry programs help single parents to create stability in every way! By addressing financial, housing, health, social, and academic needs, reentry programs are empowering single parents to take care of themselves and their families after incarceration.

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