Speaker helps children cope with incarceration

Published 8:26 pm Monday, February 19, 2018

One in 14 children in the United States has a parent who is incarcerated, and more than five million children in United States have had a parent sent to prison in their lifetimes, according to author and activist Quniana Futrell.

Her seminar this Thursday will show adults who work with these children help them feel like they’re not alone.

“Nurturing Beyond Bars” will be held this Thursday evening at the Suffolk Hilton Garden Inn. The session is sponsored by Suffolk Department of Social Services and the Early Childhood Development Commission.

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Futrell has been a family advocate for children with incarcerated parents and their families since 2000. She’s the founder of Building Resilience in Communities Inc. and is an adjunct professor for the Early Childhood Education Department at Tidewater Community College.

She has a deep understanding of what having incarcerated parents does to a child both mentally and emotionally. Her own parents were incarcerated when she was a child in New Jersey, and she was raised by her grandmother.

“From that, I’ve just turned my pain into purpose,” she said in a phone interview.

About 150 have already registered for the session as of Monday, she said. Futrell will dive into coping strategies, recognizing different behaviors in children that are struggling and how to use words so the children will understand what is happening.

“They’ll be learning the different ways they can nurture these children and understand the true impact this can have on them,” she said.

Her book “Our Moms” was re-released by Morgan James Publishing on Jan. 23. The story is about four kids from different backgrounds that have one thing in common: their moms are in prison.

She wrote the book as a resource for teachers, school administrators, social workers and caregivers to use as a “conversation starter,” according to the press release. Her goal is to raise awareness of these issues and the negativity they bring upon children.

By supporting them with proper care and the right tools, these children will understand that they are not defined by their parents’ mistakes and that they can become successful, happy adults.

“Every child deserves the chance to create their own story,” the press release stated.

The presentation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at 100 E. Constance Road. The event is free to attend, and dinner will also be provided. Call 514-7442 for more information.