KidsMates Inc. is an American non-profit organization that we co-founded to advocate for children of incarcerated parents.
When our father was incarcerated, nothing could prepare us for what we would lose or how lost we would feel. Despite all the terrifying things that were happening, it was the shame and stigma of parental incarceration that were paralyzing.
In our darkest moments, we turned to supportive adults - our parents, family, friends, teachers, and coaches - for guidance. We discovered that if we were going to survive parental incarceration, we would have to embrace it. That’s when we decided “We wanted to own the label, instead of it owning us.”
Our mother was born and brought up in New Zealand, where the term “mate” is akin to the term “buddy” in America. We liked the idea of destigmatizing the term "inmate" and keeping the emphasis of our name on close relationships while intertwining our mother’s heritage.
Over the years, we’ve unlocked some of the answers to surviving parental incarceration and wanted to share them with you.
Joshua, Ava, & David Martoma
Co-founders, KidsMates Inc.
"American children are silently struggling with parental incarceration at record rates. Small gestures of care and support can have life-changing benefits."
Rosemary Martoma, MD FAAP
President, KidsMates Inc.