When caregivers provide their child with dependable and reliable information about his or her parent’s incarceration, they lay the foundation for developing resilience. The disclosure fosters a trusting relationship between the caregiver and child, creating a comfortable environment for the child to ask difficult questions while grieving his or her loss and adjusting to a new reality.
KidsMates is a national non-profit organization that we co-founded to promote resilience in the face of childhood adversity.
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 childhood adversity and wanted to share them with you.
Joshua, Ava, & David Martoma
“Now, more than ever, children of incarcerated parents are at high risk of poor health and wellbeing. Healthcare and education providers play a pivotal role in destigmatizing parental incarceration and improving lifelong outcomes for affected children.”