*Important update: The Televisiting program was temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will resume providing services as soon as government bodies restore program access to incarcerated individuals.
More than two million American children have a parent who is in jail or prison. Rikers Island, New York City’s largest jail, has housed over 14,000 people, the majority of them parents.
In 2012, the Social Service Board launched its Supportive Televisiting Services (STS) Program. Its mission is to help heal the families of incarcerated parents by providing opportunities for children to maintain contact with their parents. The benefits that televisiting provides affect the community as well as the families.
Over its seven years of operation, the Supportive Televisiting Service has served hundreds of families, restoring and maintaining the parent-child bond, helping to reduce the separation trauma that impacts the children behaviorally and emotionally, and contributing to more successful re-entry for the parents at the end of their terms.
Benefits to families: Research has proven that regular visiting works to prevent or reduce behavioral, emotional, and school problems for children of incarcerated parents. Through televisiting, a child experiences less separation trauma, and parents are able to preserve a secure attachment with the child. Opportunities to interact with a parent, to read, play games, create art, and celebrate special milestones reassure and comfort children during separation.
Benefits to the community: STS provides training in parenting, anger management, and mock job interviews. Skills developed in these areas reduce recidivism and enhance the likelihood that incarcerated parents will return to their families and build useful lives after their prison terms end.
Benefits to professionals: STS offers cultural competence and telemedicine training to empower service agencies and communities to foster strong connections and ensure that children and families have the best chance for positive outcomes.
Televisiting services are provided free of charge to client families and facilities, supported by funding or in-kind donations from our collaborators, including the New York City Council, the New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC), the Social Services Board (SSB), Fordham University’s Be the Evidence Project, the Jericho Task Force, and Cisco Systems.
During the COVID-19 pandemic with prisons on lockdown and access to incarcerated individuals limited, the televisiting program was adapted to include direct teletherapy for students, staff, and parents. It was first piloted in March 2020 in ACCION Academy High School and funded through a community organization. In 2020/21 the program was expanded to 3 community high schools through funds provided by the local community organizations, themselves recipients of the grants managed by the DOE.
With this new addition to our program, our licensed psychologist, Frank J. Corigliano Ph.D. provides direct teletherapy sessions to students identified as “at-risk” by their teachers, parents, or guidance counselors. Dr. Corigliano also provides training services to the teachers and guidance counselors to help them pinpoint students who may be experiencing excess stress and anxiety due to circumstances outside of school.
We are currently looking for graduate students with a focus on social work for an internship opportunity as well as volunteers for both programs.
For more information contact Frank J. Corigliano at email@example.com