Grant Aids Families Coping With Parent in Prison

A grant of $206,243 to provide assistance to families whose lives have been affected by having a loved one in prison has been awarded to Families in Crisis by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The grant will allow the agency to launch new programs that support the well-being of children and families in Hartford, where it is estimated as many as 6,000 children have at least one parent in prison.

“Naturally, we feel empathy for the victims of a crime,” said Susan Quinlan, executive director of Families in Crisis, a nonprofit headquartered in Hartford. “But we don’t generally think about the others affected – the families of offenders, especially children. They have committed no crime, but their lives are drastically changed.”

Families in Crisis is the only agency in Connecticut, and one of few nationally, dedicated to serving families of offenders. It provides services throughout Connecticut, including 15 state correctional facilities, helping families build fundamental skills and meet basic needs through participating in specialized counseling, education, case management, and related services.

“Our programs, which are based on documented best practices in the field, help offenders and their loved ones preserve and strengthen family ties and confront and overcome challenges to rebuilding their lives. Without interventions, incarceration becomes a cycle that often repeats itself,” said Quinlan.

A report of the Recidivism Reduction Committee of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission documents that strengthened family ties reduces prison violence and decreases recidivism.

“Yet many families struggle to even visit relatives in prison because of the lack of transportation, distance, restrictions on who can visit, conflicts with work schedules, child care responsibilities, or prison visiting areas that are not conducive for young children,” said Judith McBride, a Hartford Foundation senior program officer.

Two of the programs funded by the grant are video visitations and kincare parenting programs being developed by Families in Crisis in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Department of Children and Families (DCF), respectively. The video visitation program will give priority to families unable to visit prisons in person and will offer follow-up support with gas cards and bus tokens to help address transportation challenges. The grant will also support kincare parenting education sessions in correctional facilities in Greater Hartford and in the Hartford community. Kincare supports the involvement of incarcerated fathers in DCF placement decisions for their children.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, established in 1925, is the community foundation for 29 communities in the Hartford region. It is dedicated to putting philanthropy into action to create lasting solutions that result in vibrant communities. It receives gifts from generous individuals, families and organizations, and in 2013 awarded grants of more than $29 million to a broad range of area nonprofits. For more information, visit or call 860-548-1888.