Community Gathers on May 8 in Support of Children with Incarcerated Parents

Strengthening Families Affected by Incarceration Collaborative

Here’s a flyer focused on activities for Kids and Families!

Here’s a flyer focused on Community Agencies and the Strengthening Families movement!

Sesame Street’s Elmo visits Brookdale Library to Support Children of Incarcerated Parents

Contact: Rebecca Shlafer, PhD; University of Minnesota’s Department of Pediatrics – 612.625.9907

Beloved Sesame Street character Elmo is coming to town to bring attention to an often forgotten part of the criminal justice system — children with incarcerated parents. The May 8 event is sponsored by a collaborative of public, private and nonprofit groups working to reach out to families dealing with the separation caused by the incarceration of a family member.

“This is one of those issues in which children can easily fall through the cracks. This isn’t just a corrections issue, or an education issue, or a health or human services issue, or even an issue for nonprofits to tackle,” said Dr. Rebecca Shlafer of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Pediatrics. “We know that helping kids with incarcerated parents will require a commitment from all of those areas and more. Instead of it being no one’s responsibility, it’s actually a challenge which can be met by all of us, working together.”

Over 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars in the United States. In Minnesota, it is estimated that more than 15,000 children have at least one parent currently incar­cerated.  The incarceration of a family member can compromise healthy social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development, with long-term implications for children’s educational success and well-being.

 Elmo’s visit is facilitated by the Strengthening Families Affected by Incarceration Collaborative— a group of public, private and non-profit entities who have joined together to raise awareness, educate the public, and provide resources and support to children, parents, and caregivers impacted by incarceration. The Collaborative believes that caregivers, mental health professionals, educators and social service providers need to have a thorough understanding of the effects and trauma that the incarceration of a parent can have on a child. For more information on the information session, contact Dr. Shlafer at 612-625-9907. For more information on the children’s activities contact Susan Glenn, Senior Librarian, Youth Services at Brookdale Library at 612-543-5631. Brookdale Library is located at 6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.

Media are invited to attend a press briefing and information session.

4 p.m. (note – NEW time)

Information Session/Press Briefing

(open to the public)

Speakers include: Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy; Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger; Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius; Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Mary Ellison; Assistant Commissioner of Human Services Erin Sullivan Sutton; and community members who will share what it’s like to have a loved one in prison or jail. Elmo will be present.

5:30-8:30 p.m.

Free activities for children and adults


Children and their favorite adults can meet Elmo and visit Sesame Street activity stations. Free refreshments are provided by Cookie Cart and Caribou Coffee and resources are available with information for caregivers.