Perhaps the only thing more interesting than hosting a muppet at the White House is meeting the people who inspired the muppet. I did both these things last week at a White House Champions of Change event honoring twelve “Champions of Change” who have dedicated themselves to supporting children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.
These individuals have and continue to work on the front lines to ensure that innocent children, nearly 2 million of whom have a parent who is incarcerated, do not suffer as a consequence of adult decisions.
These Champions have helped scores of children and their families by minimizing the potential negative impacts of having a parent who is incarcerated, including financial instability, changes in housing, and isolation due to stigma - Champions such as Sister Tesa Fitzgerald of Queens, New York.
Sister Tesa has spent the last 26 years as the founding Executive Director of Hour Children, a nonprofit program based in Queens that provides comprehensive support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children.
You can read more about the Champions that were honored here.
But back to the muppet. In addition to honoring our inspiring Champions, I was delighted to help introduce Sesame Street’s newest Muppet, Alex, who has an incarcerated father.
At the Champions for Change event, Sesame Street announced their new Little Children, Big Challenges Initiative, which includes multimedia, bilingual (English/Spanish) materials for young children of incarcerated parents, their families and caregivers, and the range of other professional who regularly interact with these children.
Every day, millions of children face tremendous challenges due to the incarceration of a loved one, and this Administration is working to support these children as part of our commitment to make sure all children get the best possible start in life.
That’s why there are a number of government agencies that provide services that support children who find themselves impacted by the incarceration of a parent.
You can find information about those resources by visiting www.findyouthinfo.gov and clicking on “Children of Incarcerated Parents” under “Youth Topics”. You can also jump right to that page by clicking here.
I privileged to honor our Champions of Change; they are inspiring examples of the good that can be accomplished when the federal government and communities come together to make sure we are standing with children who need support. And when you get to stand with a muppet, well that just makes it fun.
Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, which coordinates the domestic policy-making process in the White House.