What We Do

Research shows that maintaining strong family bonds and sustaining communication during incarceration, through family literacy programs, and strong mentoring can yield reduced recidivism rates and improve reintegration with the community. CLICC uses this combination of activities to support incarcerated parents and their children, who may experience feelings of shame and stigma because of the incarceration.

CLICC is a one-year program. Each child and parent in the CLICC program meets with a separate mentor on a weekly basis for one year. The CLICC-trained parent mentors meet with parents in prison, either individually or in a group. CLICC-trained child mentors meet one-to-one with a child (age 5-17) at a site in the community that is convenient for the child, such as a local library or afterschool program. The parent and child read approximately one book — selected by the child — per month. With mentor support, they complete literacy exercises connecting the books to their lives through letters to each other. The books also can be discussed during phone calls and in-person visits.

The literacy exercises are based on a curriculum developed exclusively for CLICC by Columbia University Teachers College. These exercises offer engaging and meaningful topics for parent-child communication, and a means to monitor literacy progress and interest among parents and children.

Mentor/child pairs meet for one continuous year to establish trusting relationships, as best practice recommends. Mentors meet with parents for approximately six months pre-release. As the parents transition out of prison, these same mentors meet with them for another six months post-release to offer support and referrals to counseling and other community services for parents and their children as requested.