Chicago-based Organizations Team Up to ‘Bring Back the Bus’ and Reconnect Incarcerated Moms with Their Kids

Chicago, IL.–(ENEWSPF)–March 23, 2016 A new campaign launches today seeking to re-connect Chicago area children with their mothers who are incarcerated downstate, separated further by Illinois budget impasse.

Many Chicago area children have not seen their mothers since last December, when a free bus run by the Connections program of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois was canceled, along with other crucial services for vulnerable people. The bus brought children to see their parents in prison, an essential connection that increases the probability of family reunification and decreases recidivism. The end of the bus program has had a profound impact on Chicago children and the mothers whose only opportunity to see their kids was through this bus.

Now, three Chicago-based organizations—Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers/Cabrini Green Legal Aid; Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration and Nehemiah Trinity Rising are teaming up to raise $10,000 to get those buses back on the road in time for Mother’s Day. This Mother’s Day fundraising campaign will kick off a longer-term project to rebuild the monthly bus program, reconnecting kids with their mothers across the state. As the bus also brings the children’s caretakers for the visits, many grandmothers are also able to see their daughters to celebrate Mother’s Day.

The majority of women who are incarcerated in the U.S. are there for acts directly related to domestic violence, poverty, addiction and other traumas. In Illinois, an estimated 80 percent of incarcerated mothers have children who are under the age of eighteen, approximately half are under the age of ten. The majority of these mothers were the primary caregivers for their children before they were incarcerated, and many hope to regain custody when they leave prison.

Sustained contact is crucial to family reunification, and to the well-being of children and moms. It is also directly correlated with a reduction in recidivism. In addition to transportation, the buses provide a community for kids whose parents are incarcerated, which can often be a lonely, traumatic, and stigmatizing experience.

Budget cuts in Illinois have left left reunification and re-entry programs desperately under-funded or cut completely. This is why the CLAIM Program of CGLA, Moms United and Nehemiah Trinity Rising are reaching out to community, student and faith-based organizations, and individuals around the city to bring back the buses, a crucial program for Chicago-area children and their parents.   .

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Source: Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers/Cabrini Green Legal Aid