5 Tips for Educators

Join us each week of See Us, Support Us Month as we share a tip for educators on how to see and support children of incarcerated parents

We are living in unusual and difficult times. Additional supports and resources for schools, teachers, and students were needed before a pandemic upended our lives and placed particular stressors on educators, who are now faced with the daunting task of teaching and supporting students while trying to also keep themselves and their families healthy. Everyone is dealing with compounding issues that COVID-19 is exacerbating. An unknown but significant number of children are additionally navigating their parent’s incarceration. Children of incarcerated parents often fly under a school’s radar or if identified can feel their experiences are judged or misunderstood. For the one in 14 children who experience a parent’s incarceration, COVID-19 presents unique challenges, such as: 1.) limited or cut off communication with their parents, 2.) worrying about their parent’s well-being because of the spread of COVID-19 in prisons and jails and the lack of adequate medical care available to their parents, and 3.) potentially feeling even more lonely in their experience because of limited contact with friends or support. 


This is why this See Us, Support Us Month we are focusing on tools for teachers and school staff so you can support this group of students and the unique challenges that COVID-19 may present. While recognizing the tremendous pressures teachers and school administrators and staff are under, here are 5 core tools to start with.

Action Steps:

  • Learn about local resources providing support for children with incarcerated parents

Find national resources here

  • Refer to educator and school staff specific resources.

Visit the SUSU Educator Resource Toolkit to learn more

  • Talk to people you know who are impacted by incarceration and/or work with people incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.  
  • Seek out any implicit bias, addressing systemic racism, or trauma-informed trainings.

Provide link

Action Steps:

  • Learn about local resources providing support for children with incarcerated parents

Find national resources here

  • Learn about local resources providing support for children with incarcerated parents

Find national resources here

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1. Start where you can with the resources you have

It may feel overwhelming at first to know how to support children with incarcerated parents, especially if you have not been impacted by incarceration yourself or are just recently learning about this experience. The good news is that more and more resources are available for children of incarcerated parents and those supporting them. Start with educating and preparing yourself so that you feel better equipped to respond to students whose parents are incarcerated.

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2. Be collaborative and reach out for support 

Even before the added difficulty of supporting students navigating COVID-19, teachers are often overburdened with the unrealistic responsibility to meet the needs of all of their students. Remember you do not have to carry all of this alone. Your time and capacity to offer support is limited. Collaborating with others will not only benefit the child but will increase the support you receive as you empower and support your students and their education.

*Disclaimer: make sure to get permission from the child to share information they shared with you with others, and remember that a child's personal information cannot be shared with an external organization without the guardian’s permission.

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Thank you to Echoes of Incarceration, Jacobia Dahm, and Salvador Espinoza for their photos.