New Hope helps Oklahoma children of prisoners through after-school programs
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Sunday, September 16, 2012
9/16/12 at 4:30 AM
Boxes of crayons, markers, colored pencils, bottles of glue, paints, construction paper and art sand were all donated to New Hope's after-school program for children who have a parent in prison.
Employees from Oklahoma Department of Human Services' Tulsa East Child Support Services Office recently delivered the bags of supplies to New Hope.
Child support specialist supervisor Melissa Fogaley said many of the cases she and others in her office deal with involve an incarcerated parent.
"More than you realize," Fogaley said. "Incarceration can be hard on families."
It's something child support specialists like David Sutton see on a regular basis, so working with New Hope made sense.
"When parents are sentenced, the kids are as well," said Sutton. "Something like this will hopefully lessen the impact."
New Hope started in 1992 as a summer camp for children who have a parent in prison.
Jennifer Davis, director of client services at New Hope, said a year-round program for these at-risk children was greatly needed, so the program expanded in 2003.
The more time the kids spend in a positive atmosphere, Davis said, the better the grades and the more engaged the children become, decreasing the chances of generational incarceration.
Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in female incarceration and No. 4 in male incarceration. There are 6,000 children in the state who have a parent in prison, said New Hope Executive Director Stacie Wilson.
New Hope operates after-school programs in five schools in Tulsa and Broken Arrow four days a week as well as a community-based after-school program out of Trinity Episcopal Church, 222 E. Fifth St., three days a week, where a meal is also served.
The nonprofit serves about 150 children ages 5 to 18 at the after-school and community-based programs. There is an application process for families who would like a child enrolled in the program.
During the two to three hours the children are participating, they get to act like regular kids but also have a chance to talk about their situation, Wilson said.
"They're also with children in similar circumstances, so they can feel safe to talk about it," she said.
The programs are free to families who apply to New Hope. The organization is funded through donations, grants and charitable gifts, like the one given Monday by child support services.
"If we didn't receive donations like this, we would have to purchase all of this," Wilson said. "We're the only service like this in our state. We depend heavily on not only donations but volunteers."
Before New Hope was introduced to the Tulsa East office, Fogaley and Sutton said they had never heard of the organization that would be an asset to so many of their clients.
"Our jobs are based on broken relationships," Sutton said. "When a parent is incarcerated they're unable to (pay child support). An agency like this bridges a gap."
Wilson said she hopes New Hope can form similar partnerships with other agencies and groups who want to help.
Original Print Headline: Program assists children of prisoners
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Kiaryn Taylor (left), 6, and twins Daisy Mae Martin and David Martin, 7, play a game with help from volunteer Mary Fousel at Trinity Episcopal Church, where a program for children of incarcerated parents is held. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World