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‘Sesame Street’ goes to prison

  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom

SesameStPrison-600'Sesame Street' has been teaching children the ABCs and so much more for years. Now, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind 'Sesame Street,' unveils its newest initiative, Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, for families with young children (ages 3–8) who have an incarcerated parent. This resource will be distributed through targeted outlets in communities by organizations, partners and individuals who reach these families.

Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration is designed to:

• support, comfort, and reduce anxiety, sadness, and confusion that young children may experience during the incarceration of a parent

• provide at-home caregivers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration

• inform incarcerated parents themselves that they can parent from anywhere, and provide them with simple parenting tips highlighting the importance of communication

Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration initiative components include: a multimedia resource kits, Sesame Street DVD featuring a Muppet story, live-action. a guide for parents and caregivers, children's storybook and a tip sheet for incarcerated parents.

An online toolkit with downloadable versions of all material is available at SesameStreet.org/Incarceration. A Sesame Street: Incarceration app for adults to use on tablets and phones, available on Google PlayTM , the App StoreSM, and the Amazon Appstore for Android on Kindle Fire. A playlist of featured videos from the initiative exists at YouTube.com/SesameStreet.

Sesame Workshop is working closely with partners to distribute and integrate Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration resources to correctional facilities and organizations that have missions specific to helping families cope with the incarceration of a loved one. Sesame Workshop will also begin to pilot, in several key states (Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin), a deeper implementation of these resources.

"Sesame Workshop has always been at the forefront of creating resources for families with young children to help address some of life's most difficult issues," said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop. "Little Children, Big Challenge: Incarceration tackles a very difficult topic, one for which there are scant resources to help young children, and best of all, it approaches these difficult transitions in the way that only Sesame Street and our trusted Muppets can."

This Sesame Workshop outreach initiative began with formative evaluation, which included consulting with an advisory board of key experts in child development, early childhood, and mental health fields, in addition to experts working with incarcerated families to guide and shape key content messages and initiative goals.

Learn more at www.sesamestreet.org.

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