AFOI's Milk and Cookies Children's Program (1)

Assisting Families of Inmates is a terrific Virginia-based organization which supports families of inmates. Their website is http://www.AFOI.org and it is highly recommended that you head over there and see all that they have to offer. This is especially true if you live in Virginia and have a friend or loved on in prison.

AFOI's Milk and Cookies (MAC) Children's Program is one of the best support programs for children of the incarcerated that I have ever heard of. According to AFOI's website, this program includes the following services:

Children's support groups.

Information and groups for parents/caregivers on the special needs of their children.

Assistance to caregivers with resources that can help financial, housing, transportation, and other concerns.

Support to help families reunite when the parent is released.

Instead of telling you what I think of AFOI's MAC program, which I think the world of by the way, I'll just let them tell you so nothing is missed. The following is a direct quotation from AFOI's website :

"What is the Milk and Cookies (MAC) Children's Program?

"Having a parent in prison or jail can be a monumental trama for a child. Struggles to understand a lengthy separation, feelings of abandonment, unanswered questions regarding the whereabouts and safety of their parent and the lack of contact can leave permanent scars on a child. To further complicate matters, these children often carry the shame and stigma projected from a society that lacks understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system. Understandably, these children can develop emotional and behavioral problems that lead them down a path of delinquency, and later, adult criminality.

"In January 1999, Assisting Families of Inmates, Inc. launched a unique school-based program addressing the needs of children impacted by parental incarceration. At that time the Milk and Cookies Children's Program was located at Blackwell Elementary School, Swansboro Elementary School, and the Sacred Heart Community Center. The program sites are all located in the city's Southside where the population of children with an incarcerated parent was known to be one of the highest in Richmond. Additionally, at that time, families who resided in the Blackwell community had the lowest median household income ($11,400), experienced the highest crime rate (based on police reports) and were the least educated (only 28% had a high school diploma) in the city of Richmond. Blackwell was also the location of a community revitalization project called Hope VI that displaced most public housing tenants.