Program Builds Bonds Between Incarcerated Parents and their Children

CLICC (Connecting through Literacy: Incarcerated Parents, their Children and Caregivers) works to strengthen the parent-child bond through reading.

A pizza-making party for CLICC child participants last winter hosted by boxer Tramaine Williams at Pepe's in New Haven. Photo provided by CLICC.

When the parent of a young child is sentenced to prison, the parent-child relationship is at risk of severing beyond repair. CLICC (Connecting through Literacy: Incarcerated Parents, their Children and Caregivers) works to heal this rupture and strengthen the parent-child bond through reading.

The literacy and mentoring program for incarcerated parents and their children has been working with local families for the past five years. It was created in response to the lack of services that connect and support children and their incarcerated parents.

Studies show that when incarcerated fathers have active parenting opportunities, they are more likely to turn away from criminal activity when they return to their communities. Other research shows that the damage done by incarceration to the parent-child bond results in the children being at high risk of suffering from long-term behavioral and health problems. The children are also likely to experience shame.

CLICC creates opportunities for incarcerated parents to connect with their children by reading a shared book and writing letters to each other. CLICC-trained child mentors meet one-to-one with their mentee, at a time and place convenient for the child, once a week for one year. Mentors help the children read books they have selected to read with their parent and write letters about what they are reading.

CLICC-trained parent mentors also meet weekly with mothers and fathers in participating state prisons, and help the parents read books selected by their children and write letters about what they are reading. The CLICC parent mentor also assists with parenting questions and is a support for the parent's success.

Following their return to the community, parents meet individually with that same CLICC mentor for approximately six months to check in about their relationships with their children, get help with parenting questions, and receive referrals to community resources as needed.

A recent grant from The Community Foundation provided funds that enabled recently released parents in the CLICC program to take their children on fun trips places including trampoline parks, a ropes course and Lake Compounce.

Did you know?

Multiple studies have concluded that children of incarcerated parents are at increased risk of delinquency or arrest.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.