California Institution for Women and Gordon Philanthropies Present at the 2024 National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference


Chief Deputy Warden (A) Delinia Lewis and GP’s Executive Director Sylvia Beanes Present on the Value of Children’s Libraries inside Correctional Facilities


California Institution for Women Chief Deputy Warden (A) Delinia Lewis and Gordon Philanthropies Executive Director Sylvia Beanes, recently spoke at the 2024 National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference sharing the importance of Children’s Libraries inside correctional facilities. Their presentation, The California Institution for Women, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and Gordon Philanthropies Put Children First, spoke to how positive visitation experiences are widely recognized as incredibly beneficial for both incarcerated parents and their children, the role that libraries can play in enhancing these experiences, and how correctional facilities in other states can replicate this work.

“We know that consistent, meaningful visitation reduces recidivism rates and helps nurture healthy bonds between children and their incarcerated parents. This means that correctional facilities must provide safe, inviting spaces to help nurture those relationships. The California Institution for Women has seen firsthand the benefit our Children’s Library has had on these visitations,” CIW Deputy Warden (A) Delinia Lewis shared with attendees.

Lewis and Beanes spoke about how the installation of CIW’s Children’s Library, made possible with funding provided by Gordon Philanthropies, has provided all visiting children with a safe, clean environment to read and play as they wait to visit their parents. Families are allowed to visit the library as they await the arrival of their incarcerated family member. This is critical, they noted, as it can take one to two hours before a family can visit their incarcerated family member- with no outside items allowed due to security protocols. Now, children have access to the latest books, board games, and other educational materials to help make their visit much more meaningful.

“Libraries, like the one we helped establish at CIW, are so desperately needed. The incarceration of a parent can severely harm a child’s education and overall quality of life. If Gordon Philanthropies can help children in need by providing educational materials and other resources, including the installation of a Children’s Library in a correctional facility, then that is exactly what we will do,” said GP Executive Director Sylvia Beanes during her presentation.

There are an estimated 2.7 million children across the United States who currently have at least one parent who is incarcerated. According to the National Institute of Justice, “Without support, children of incarcerated parents have poor educational outcomes, are vulnerable to developing behavioral health challenges, and shorter life expectancies.” For this reason, the NIJ recognizes children as the “hidden victims” of incarceration. Fortunately, research also suggests that fostering healthy parent-child bonds combined with strong social support systems can aid children overcome the challenges and stigmas of having an incarcerated parent.

Lewis and Beanes delivered their presentation to an audience of over 100 professionals from numerous states across the nation and Canada on the second day of the 6th National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference unites professionals in child welfare, corrections, education, social work, behavioral health and human services, judicial affairs, and more. Conference panels and presentations provide attendees with an opportunity to gather, share effective practices, and engage in planning. The conference was hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Child Well-Being.

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