(BOP) - On the weekend of November 30, 2013, the Bureau of Prisons held its first ever Universal Children’s Day, a visiting event for inmates and their families. This special visiting weekend provided a wonderful opportunity for inmates to deepen their bonds with their children and strengthen their roles as parents through various activities and workshops.
Institutions collaborated with their local communities to make the event a tremendous success. Nearly 8,500 children visited more than 4000 federal inmates at institutions around the country during this special weekend. Visiting featured such activities as storytelling, face painting, parenting workshops and family worship services, and holiday-themed arts and crafts. Dairy calves were on hand at one prison for a petting zoo, and another featured fire trucks from the local fire department. Additionally, each institution provided the participating families with Sesame Street's "Little Children, Big Challenges" booklets and DVDs, "Mommies and Daddies in Prison" by Sue Jeweler and Judi Goozh, children's coloring pages and parenting tip sheets.
Bureau of Prisons Director, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., praised the work of staff and community volunteers in bringing this event to fruition. He was pleased by the large numbers of children that were able to visit with their incarcerated parents and stated, "The Bureau of Prisons is committed to giving inmates opportunities to enhance their relationship with their children and their role as parents. There is no substitute for looking your children in the eye and letting them know you care about them."
For some inmates this was the first time they read a book to their child or drew a picture together. Hopefully, this is just the beginning, for many mothers and fathers, of a sustained journey back into the lives of their children and their roles as parents. The Bureau is always looking for new ways to help inmates enhance their parenting and other skills related to a successful return to the community. This weekend's events were certainly a great start.