Teaching parenting courses to mothers behind bars started with Dee Ann Newell in 1994 (Arkansas Voices). She founded the Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind back then. This was largely because incarcerated parents were often urging her to “please check on our kids”.
Dee Ann Newell actually helped to pay visits to children of incarcerated parents. And she found most of them were barely managing to survive. They were beset with distress, hunger, disdain and public aparthy for having parents in prisons, the Huffington Post reports.
The Arkansas Voices has been able to provide significant assistance to over 38,000 children over the years.
They were supported and offered opportunities that wouldn’t have come otherwise.
In Arkansas alone, parents in prison left behind about 70,000 kids that have to face life all alone. Most of these kids were raised by grandparents.
“It Helped Me to Not Be So Angry At the World,” Alexis Beaver
Alexis’ mother is serving a life sentence for capital murder and aggravated robberies. Alexis was only four years old when her mother was sent off to prison, and she was raised by her grandmother.
“The program showed me I wasn’t the only person who had a parent who was in prison,” said Alexis Beavers, now 23. “For a while, I thought I was the only person.”
Arkansas Voices took Alexis and other similar kids under its wings when she was just six years old. The non-profit organization provided her with supports and arranged constant visits to her incarcerated mother. Now she sees her mom in prison twice a month and speaks to her once a week on phone, courtesy of Arkansas Voices.
Arkansas Voices Needs More Funding To Continue With Its Good Works to Vulnerable Kids
Funding was not much of a problem when Dee Ann Newell began teaching parenting courses to mothers behind bars decades back.
Her non-profit was funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services. But that is no longer the case under the present Trump administration. Just like children of incarcerated parents, Arkansas Voices manages to get by today.
Newell now runs the non-profit from her home, and the organization’s ability to carry on its mandated is rapidly waning. She used to run the non-profit from 10 different offices across Arkansas when funding was good; now she has only her Little Rock home to use.
But the visioner is not losing hope over Arkansas Voices, she is positive some of the children the non-profit had helped will help carry on the mission once they stabilize in life.