FORT MYERS, Fla. - According to the Department of Corrections, almost 65,000 kids in Florida have an incarcerated parent. Nationwide that number has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years.
Saturday, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, announced the launch of their latest program "Little Children Big Challenges: Incarceration."
Florida is one of only ten states now providing special resource kits to families struggling with family members behind bars.
"Florida is the third largest corrections system in the United States. We have 100,000 inmates in our institutions," said Misty Cash with the Department of Corrections.
But even with these staggering statistics, few resources exist to support families affected by incarceration.
Multimedia resource kits will be given to each facility across the State of Florida and include a DVD, children's storybook and a guide for parents and caregivers.
"They don't understand why mom isn't able to be home and read a story at bedtime, they don't understand why dad can't watch their football game," Cash said.
The program is part of the department's family reunification effort and say those with family support are less likely to re-offend or re-enter the system.
"Sesame Street has paid for all of it so the State of Florida, Florida tax payers have not spent any money on this program," she said.
The program provides all of the materials in both English and Spanish. Smartphone apps are also available.
For more information visit http://www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/children/