Hour Children's Center
Believing that a strong family connection maximizes a child’s stability and a woman’s chances of success upon reentry, Hour Children’s Center works to nurture happy, healthy, and caring relationships between incarcerated mothers and their children through an array of free programs and services.
Children of the incarcerated are innocent of any crime, yet they suffer the consequences of having their mothers taken from them. For more than thirty years, Hour Children’s Center has been a leading provider of innovative parenting programs at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison for women located in northern Westchester County. Led by the nonprofit Hour Children, we offer the following programs:
- Free bus and van transportation to/from all parts of NY State (and surrounding areas) provides regular and affordable opportunities for children and families to visit with incarcerated loved ones.
- Advocacy services offer support and counseling for incarcerated mothers, as well as provide regular telephone contact with their children, guardians, schools, and other childcare professionals.
- Parenting education classes provide support and skills to help mothers address the unique challenges of parenting from prison.
- Hour Teen/Pre-Teen Program works closely with adolescent children, their guardians, and their incarcerated mothers to provide special support during the challenging teen/pre-teen years. The program provides regular visitation, case management, parenting education, outside enrichment, and peer support for both the mothers and their children to help them navigate the emotional, academic, and social challenges of adolescence, made more difficult by having a parent in prison.
- Birthday celebrations during visits, complete with a cake, donated gifts, and photographs, help children mark these important milestones with their mothers.
- A unique opportunity for children ages 5-18 to visit with their incarcerated mothers for an extended period during the summer. Using a day-camp model, the program features entertainment, arts-and-crafts, and games for mothers and their children. Evenings and overnights are spent with local host families who open their hearts and homes to the children.
- Women select gifts, which are donated from the community, to present to their children at visits during the holidays.
- Women create hand-made greeting cards to send to their children to honor birthdays, celebrate holidays, or simply to express their love.
- From a wide selection of donated books, women record themselves reading aloud to their children. The books and recording are mailed to the child. In addition to promoting literacy, the program allows children to play their mother’s voice whenever they may feel the pain and loneliness of the separation.