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CASE STUDY: Johnson County Jail

Located in Centerview, Missouri, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s mission is to provide professional, high quality and effective police, correctional, and court security services in partnership with the community. The members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office believe that their work has a vital impact on the quality of life in the community. To demonstrate commitment to the profession, on- and off-duty, they subscribe to the following values: Pride, Integrity, Professionalism, and Fairness. Built in 1999, the 35,173 square foot jail facility houses an average of 169 inmates with a maximum capacity of 195 beds.

KEY FACILITY PARTNERS: Sheriff Scott Munsterman, Major Aaron Brown, Captain Mike Hanes, Jail Administrator Aubrie Scott

CHALLENGES: In the past, inmates at Johnson County Jail were only allowed phone calls and on-site visitation to communicate with their loved ones. Since the facility houses inmates from multiple jurisdictions, the facility needed an inmate communication solution to accommodate inmates’ loved ones who did not live close to the jail. Searching for a provider that could integrate a simpler, more convenient inmate visitation process, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office released a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find the optimal partner to meet their needs to update what they currently were using. Looking to ease the burden on their correctional staff, the Sheriff’s Office also wanted to reduce as many duties for officers as possible to ensure detainees were getting their undivided attention. After a positive recommendation by another vendor to move forward with inmate video visitation as a solution, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office selected HomeWAV as its inmate communication and technology provider.

Visit HomeWAV LIVE at National Sheriffs’ Association’s Annual Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Visit HomeWAV LIVE at National Sheriffs’ Association’s Annual Conference

Business development team to showcase inmate technology, communication solutions


Kansas City, Mo., June 22, 2022–HomeWAV, the leader in providing simple, secure inmate communication solutions, is excited to announce its representation in the Exhibit Hall at the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri on June 27 – 30, 2022.

As a trusted corporate partner of NSA for over six years, HomeWAV disrupts the industry standard by developing transformative technology. From voice calls, video calls, eMessaging, kiosks, tablets, investigative tools, and more, learn about the comprehensive impact of becoming a HomeWAV partner, from ensuring industry-leading efficiency to keeping communities connected in meaningful ways.

“The NSA Annual Conference has always been one of our favorite shows,” said HomeWAV CEO/President John Best. “We expect the turnout to be as great as ever as we are all adjusting back to society, and with the conference in our home state of Missouri, HomeWAV will be bringing a larger presence than normal.”

HomeWAV’s Business Development Team will be in the Exhibit Hall showcasing innovative inmate technology and communication solutions through a variety of displays and live HomePAS™ kiosks and ComPAS™ tablets for attendees to check out during the conference. Visit with HomeWAV’s team of industry experts at Booth #1105, located just north of the main escalator entrance in the Exhibit Hall.

At an eye-catching green, white, and black booth, visitors will learn how HomeWAV can help keep facilities safe and communities connected. HomeWAV’s CEO/President John Best, Senior Director of Business Development Todd George, Business Development Director Jim DiCenso, and Business Development Executives Alan Pickell and Drew Willy look forward to connecting with attendees to discuss the company’s all-in-one product and service portfolio.

“We are excited for our team to attend NSA and connect with sheriffs and law enforcement agencies again. We’re looking forward to visiting with sheriffs’ office leaders from across the U.S.,” said Todd George, Senior Director of Business Development at HomeWAV.

About HomeWAV

Founded in 2011, HomeWAV LLC has remained the industry leader in providing safe, secure inmate communication and technology solutions to correctional facilities across the country. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, our all-in-one patented platform is the first of its kind to satisfy the growing demands in the

correctional industry. Through our organizational pillars of Integrity, Innovation, and Impact, we are disrupting the industry standard by leading with fairness and developing transformative technology while

keeping facilities safe and communities connected. For more information, visit HomeWAV at www.homewav.com.

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Media Contact:
Amanda Jasper
636.212.1859
a.jasper@homewav.com

How Do I Video Call an Inmate?

While nothing can take the place of in-person visitation, advancements in technology can help bridge the gap between you and your incarcerated loved one by allowing video calls with someone in jail. Through companies like HomeWAV, inmates are able to make video calls with friends and family from jail easily and safely, allowing for better connections and communication. If you have been looking for an alternative to FaceTime to connect with someone in jail more efficiently, HomeWAV provides video and voice calling resources.

If your loved one is currently an inmate at a correctional facility that offers the HomeWAV system, video calling is as easy as five steps:

There are a variety of ways to maintain a relationship with an inmate, some requiring less effort than others, but they are all capable of helping you connect. With a little creativity, not only will you keep each other engaged socially, you can help each other grow as people. Creative examples for socializing with incarcerated individuals, which can be done virtually or in-person, include:

1. Create an Account: To ensure safety for yourself and your loved one, you’ll need to first create a HomeWAV account online, either through your computer browser or the mobile app on your phone. (The mobile app is available free in the app store for iOS and Android.) You will need to upload a profile picture of yourself that is head-on, from the shoulders up, and without filters or edits, as well as a government-issued ID like your license, state ID, or passport.

2. Wait to be Accepted by the Detention Facility: In most cases, your account will be reviewed by the correctional facility within 24 to 48 hours. The correctional facility will see your account, profile photo, and government-issued ID, then grant or deny access. This process is similar to the one you would need to go through to visit in-person and gives facility staff the awareness of who inmates are speaking with.

Please note that acceptance is at the discretion of each correctional facility. Outside of financial fraud situations, HomeWAV does not stop accounts from being made. If your account is not accepted, please contact the detention facility.

3. Add Funds to Your Account: You can also add funds to your incarcerated loved one’s HomeWAV account through the website, mobile app, a PayNearMe kiosk, or through our automated phone payment system. Your loved one will be able to use these funds to call those on their approved phone list. 

Fees and services are set independently by each corrections facility, but most are between 10 and 30 cents per minute. eMessaging features are less than one cent per character. Unlike calls from the detention center which can sometimes allow for outgoing collect calls, you will need to add funds via credit, debit, or prepaid cards prior to the call. Enter the amount you would like to add to your account via the “Add ‘Talk to Me’ Funds” in the app or online.

4. Wait for Your Loved One to Jump Online: The great thing about video calling with an inmate is that you do not need to have a scheduled time to chat. Instead, video/voice calls and eMessaging can be made to and from your loved one when they have access to a HomeWAV kiosk or tablet. This means you can talk more frequently when you are both available.

5. Video Call with Your Loved One: When you are both online, they can call you through our secure app or website portal.

We understand that knowing someone in jail is hard, but with HomeWAV, we hope to make communicating easier by allowing video calls similar to FaceTime. With video calls, you can keep your loved one up-to-date about what is happening in your life and feel a bit closer, even while they are incarcerated. 

For more information about HomeWAV or how to stay in contact with your loved one, help children understand the situation, and care for yourself during this trying time, we have free resources available on our website.

How Frequent Communication Helps Maintain Relationships During Incarceration

Having a home and relationships is what keeps many people grounded, but what happens when their home is lost and their relationships are upended as a result of incarceration? That shift can take a serious toll on incarcerated individuals, as their social interactions are limited. Maintaining a relationship with an inmate can be challenging, both for the person who is incarcerated and their family and friends, but maintaining frequent communication can help everyone involved.

People require social interactions to grow and thrive mentally and emotionally, and we can all benefit when we learn about different perspectives from others through conversation. But how do you maintain a relationship and conversations with the difficult physical and mental barriers of incarceration? There is no easy answer to this, as it will require creativity and putting in the effort.

Creativity Knows No Bounds

There are a variety of ways to maintain a relationship with an inmate, some requiring less effort than others, but they are all capable of helping you connect. With a little creativity, not only will you keep each other engaged socially, you can help each other grow as people. Creative examples for socializing with incarcerated individuals, which can be done virtually or in-person, include:

Engage their interests. Do not talk about the things you know they dislike. Instead, bring light into their life — it will help sustain them. Do they love sports? Discuss their favorite college or professional team, especially if they are on a winning streak or making good headlines!

Playing games. Come up with simple games to play. Even ones that do not require any physical items, like games rooted in trivia, can be fun.

Reading books. Identify a book you both want to read, get two copies (one for each of you, if allowed) and then start your own two-person book club. If you want to study a topic together, a self-help book may be a great option. If the incarcerated individual is not allowed to have books, you could choose to read aloud to them. Some correctional facilities allow books to be made available through the HomeWAV system that can be read together.

Avoid talking about incarceration. Want to keep the mood light? Focus on fun topics, like favorite vacation spots, best restaurants, theme parks, movies, books, etc.

Religion. It’s not for everyone, but if your incarcerated loved one is a person of faith, they likely find comfort in discussing their faith background, books from the Bible, and religion.

Maintaining Healthy Relationships After Incarceration

The progress you make in your relationship while your loved one is incarcerated will carry over after their release. Not only will they be better adjusted, but you will also have a stronger bond that can help fuel the two of you emotionally.

Part of having a healthier relationship after incarceration is that incarceration provides opportunities for both parties to improve communication skills, which in turn can help strengthen your commitment to one another and perhaps even provide conflict-resolution skills. The development of these newfound skills does more than help you maintain a healthy relationship after incarceration, it can help ease the reentry process and reduce the chance of recidivism. 

Additionally, by communicating more with those outside of jail, those who are incarcerated are likely to feel more at ease settling back into society once they are released because they feel more connected to their loved ones and the community. They are more aware of things that have happened while they were gone and how those in their lives are doing, leading to feelings of connection.

Creating Interpersonal Connections through HomeWAV

HomeWAV provides cost-effective and convenient video visitation options to friends, family, and their incarcerated loved ones. With a free mobile app and easy-to-use technology, we make video calls simple. By bridging the technology gap, we make maintaining a relationship with an inmate easier. Create an account or check out our FAQ page for more information.

CASE STUDY: Hendricks County Jail

Located on East Main Street in Danville, Indiana, Hendricks County Jail’s mission is to provide a safe, secure, and constitutional detention facility in the most respectful, professional, and fiscally responsible manner possible. Built in 1973 and beginning jail operations in 1974, the original 85,000 square foot facility houses an average of 230 inmates with a maximum capacity of 252 beds available.

KEY FACILITY PARTNERS: Sheriff Brett Clark, Chief Deputy Roger Call, Matron Ronda Elliott

CHALLENGES: Hendricks County Jail wanted a low-cost, all-in-one solution from an innovative inmate communications provider and sought out a new, reliable partner that would not charge a high price for state-of-the-art equipment. They were open to new options that would provide better inmate communications options and wanted to give a new company a chance to make a difference in their facility. After an informative presentation in which HomeWAV asked in-depth questions and showed genuine care about their needs, Hendricks County Jail selected HomeWAV as their partner on November 10, 2015. HomeWAV’s task was to deliver a solution to not only produce more revenue for the facility, but also to provide a much better, reliable service for inmates to connect with their loved ones.

HomeWAV Grows as Great Place to Work™

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HomeWAV Grows as Great Place to Work™

St. Louis-based IP communications company fosters a culture of integrity, innovation, impact

ST. LOUIS, Mo., May 24, 2022–HomeWAV, the leader in providing simple, secure inmate communication and technology solutions, is excited to grow its business as a nationally certified Great Place to Work™ after a surge in business and product development over the past two years.

Based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, HomeWAV’s offerings providing inmate communication and technology solutions for the corrections industry has soared to new heights. With remote video visitation more important than ever, HomeWAV’s patented all-in-one technology has brought friends and family closer to incarcerated loved ones and provided support for correctional facilities across the country during an unprecedented time of staffing shortages. HomeWAV’s products and services have helped streamline jail operations during this time, reducing the burden on facility staff.

Earning a spot on the Great Place to Work™ listing in July 2021, one of HomeWAV’s biggest initiatives for 2022 is to invest in its people. Recently, the organization developed a comprehensive company handbook and expanded improved benefits such as increased paid time off, a new hybrid remote work policy, and parental leave. As a nationally certified Great Place to Work™, 94% of employees at HomeWAV say it is a great place to work compared to 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

“HomeWAV is a great place to work because we get to experience all the flexibility and interpersonal connection of a small company and enjoy the ever-expanding new opportunities for career growth in HomeWAV as the business grows, while receiving competitive benefits and pay of a much larger company,” said HomeWAV People Operations Manager Tim Schweiss. “It’s a place where you are valued individually and collectively, and we strive to create as many avenues as possible to make each employee feel comfortable and secure knowing that we treat your job with the same importance that you do.”

Growing from 44 employees in 2020 and 62 employees in 2021, the company now has 66 total employees helping to provide solutions to keep facilities safe and communities connected through its brand pillars of integrity, innovation, and impact. To match this growth, HomeWAV has plans to hire more employees this year across multiple departments, spanning from information technology, product development, and customer service to provide exceptional products and services for facility partners, friends, and family.

“There is no higher honor than to be recognized as a Great Place to Work™,” said HomeWAV CEO/President John Best. “We are a group of highly energetic and relentless problem-solvers. I’m proud of the incredible dedication and loyalty our team has to our company that has been the catalyst of our growth. I’m excited to see what our team can accomplish together as we grow our business.”

About HomeWAV
Founded in 2011, HomeWAV LLC has remained the industry leader in providing safe, secure inmate communication and technology solutions to correctional facilities across the country. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, our all-in-one patented platform is the first of its kind to satisfy the growing demands in the correctional industry. Through our organizational pillars of Integrity, Innovation, and Impact, we are disrupting the industry standard by leading with fairness and developing transformative technology while keeping facilities safe and communities connected. For more information, visit HomeWAV at www.homewav.com.

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Media Contact:
Amanda Jasper
636.212.1859
a.jasper@homewav.com

HomeWAV Brings Inmate Communication Technology to Macon County Jail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HomeWAV Brings Inmate Communication Technology
to Macon County Jail

IP communications company now provides video, voice calling
for Illinois jail

DECATUR, Ill., May 19, 2022–HomeWAV, the leader in providing simple, secure inmate communication solutions, recently completed installation of a new inmate communication system at Macon County Jail in Decatur, Illinois on May 17.

With a capacity of 270 inmates, Macon County Jail is partnering with HomeWAV as their all-in-one provider for inmate voice calls, video visitation, eMessaging, mail scanning, voice biometrics, commissary integration, law library, and inmate forms through 56 HomePAS™ (Protected Access System) kiosks and 270 ComPAS™ tablets.

Selecting HomeWAV for its exceptionally innovative technology, Macon County Jail now has capabilities to use remote visitation without any advanced scheduling, with low costs to make voice calls for just 15 cents per minute and video calls for just 25 cents per minute.

“We look forward to our partnership with HomeWAV to provide advanced inmate communications and other technology solutions in the Macon County Jail,” said Macon County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Kristopher Thompson. “They were chosen for their promised commitment to quality service and their demonstrated capabilities. We have no doubt our contract will be beneficial to the County and hope it’s a long-lasting partnership.”

One of HomeWAV’s latest product offerings, ComPAS™ tablets, includes messaging, forms, law library, commissary ordering, educational opportunities, and entertainment, including a selection of movies, books, music, and games.

“By providing tablets to the facility, the inmates will now have access to educational and drug treatment programs as well as messaging and entertainment features,” said HomeWAV Director of Business Development Jim DiCenso. “Our system is designed to give the inmates the opportunity for self-improvement and education with the hope of reducing recidivism. Keeping the inmates busy with educational tools, religious materials, books and movies will also cut down on violent and disruptive acts in the jail and make for a safer environment for everyone in the facility.”

About HomeWAV
Founded in 2011, HomeWAV LLC has remained the industry leader in providing safe, secure inmate communication and technology solutions to correctional facilities across the country. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, our all-in-one patented platform is the first of its kind to satisfy the growing demands in the correctional industry. Through our organizational pillars of Integrity, Innovation, and Impact, we are disrupting the industry standard by leading with fairness and developing transformative technology while keeping facilities safe and communities connected. For more information, visit HomeWAV at www.homewav.com.

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Media Contact:
Amanda Jasper
636.212.1859
a.jasper@homewav.com

Visit HomeWAV LIVE at American Jail Association’s Annual Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Visit HomeWAV LIVE at American Jail Association’s
Annual Conference

Business development team to showcase inmate technology,
communication solutions

LONG BEACH, Calif., May 11, 2022–HomeWAV, the leader in providing simple, secure inmate communication solutions, is excited to announce its representation in the Exhibit Hall at the American Jail Association (AJA) 41st Conference & Jail Expo in Long Beach, California on May 21 – 25, 2022.

As a trusted corporate partner of AJA for the past four years, HomeWAV disrupts the industry standard by developing transformative technology. From voice calls, video calls, eMessaging, kiosks, tablets, investigative tools, and more, learn about the comprehensive impact of becoming a HomeWAV partner, from ensuring industry-leading efficiency to keeping communities connected in meaningful ways.

HomeWAV’s Business Development Team will be in the Exhibit Hall showcasing innovative inmate technology and communication solutions through a variety of displays and live HomePAS™ kiosks and ComPAS™ tablets for attendees to check out during the conference. Visit with HomeWAV’s team of industry experts at Booth #113, located just north of the main entrance of the Exhibit Hall.

At an eye-catching green, white, and black booth, visitors will learn how HomeWAV can help keep facilities safe and communities connected. HomeWAV’s Business Development Executives Alan Pickell and Drew Willy look forward to connecting with attendees to discuss the company’s all-in-one product and service portfolio.

“We are excited for our team to once again attend AJA and connect with sheriffs and jail administrators.  We’re looking forward to visiting with corrections leaders from across the U.S.,” said Todd George, Senior Director of Business Development at HomeWAV.

About HomeWAV
Founded in 2011, HomeWAV LLC has remained the industry leader in providing safe, secure inmate communication and technology solutions to correctional facilities across the country. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, our all-in-one patented platform is the first of its kind to satisfy the growing demands in the correctional industry. Through our organizational pillars of Integrity, Innovation, and Impact, we are disrupting the industry standard by leading with fairness and developing transformative technology while keeping facilities safe and communities connected. For more information, visit HomeWAV at www.homewav.com.

###

Media Contact:
Amanda Jasper
636.212.1859
a.jasper@homewav.com

Resources to Readjust to Society

For previously incarcerated individuals, being released from jail is the start of a new chapter of difficulties when they are unable to access the right resources to reenter society. Due to minimal preparation and inadequate community reentry programs for those previously incarcerated — as well as prejudices from society towards the incarcerated and their families — many find their options limited. 

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that over 67% of state and federal prisoners are likely to be rearrested within three years of their release, stating, “with no job, no money, and no place to live, returnees often find themselves facing the same pressures and temptations that landed them in prison in the first place.”

However, there is a growing understanding that resources and programs are needed to help those previously incarcerated reenter society successfully and lower the rates of recidivism. These resources are meant to help the formerly incarcerated and their families break through barriers to reenter society and live happy, productive lives.

Reentry Programs and Resources for Those Previously Incarcerated

Housing Services

One of the most immediate needs when being released from jail is the need for housing if none is available. Depending on the situation, it can be difficult for an individual to find housing. If there are strained familial relationships or current addiction issues, living with family members may not be an option. However, an individual’s record and raising rental prices across the country can keep those previously incarcerated from finding a home. Additionally, myths prevail that those who have been convicted of a crime are “banned” from public housing.

If an individual is not able to live with family in a secure environment, it is important to connect with reentry programs as soon as possible to find available housing.

• The first resource is to connect with their parole officer. Parole officers will be the most in-touch with local resources for those previously incarcerated.

Catholic Charities USA provides resources for families and individuals who are homeless or in danger of becoming destitute. You do not need to be Catholic to receive assistance.

Reentry and Housing Coalition provides resources in finding housing — public, private, and transitional — to the formerly incarcerated.

Volunteers of America also provides housing and additional reentry programs and resources for those formerly incarcerated. With local offices across the country, they have access to more immediately available housing.

• Every state has a Public Housing Authority government office that is responsible for providing housing resources to the local community. These include local Section 8 aid through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

• In some cities, small houses are available to those who are in danger of becoming homeless, including pilot programs in Pinellas, Fl. Google whether there are tiny homes available in your city to see if there are local resources available. 

Employment Services

Finding employment when you have been arrested — much less convicted of a crime — can be difficult. While there is a push to remove the disclosure of criminal records from job applications entirely and move background checks further in the employment process to allow those who were previously incarcerated to be considered for their qualifications, many states still allow employers to request your detainment history. 

That being said, there are a number of employment resources for those who were previously incarcerated.

CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, providing employment resources, including for those previously incarcerated.

• The Fair Shake Reentry Resource Center is a 501(c)(3) charity that helps previously incarcerated individuals find a variety of services, including employment listings specifically for those with a criminal record and resources for those looking to start a business.

• Your local municipality should have resources through the Department of Labor to help those previously incarcerated find employment. Googling your city’s Department of Labor will help you find the correct location. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor provides employment resources.

• For those looking to start their own business or gain additional training for employment, there are available grants that make finding funding and resources easier to expand your skills or get your business idea off the ground.

Education

Gaining an education can help open opportunities for stable employment. While many jails and prisons provide education programs as part of their previous reentry services, there are opportunities for those released to continue their education.

• The Thurman Perry Foundation provides previously incarcerated females with scholarships to help them pursue educational opportunities.

• The Last Prisoner Project provides resources for those who were incarcerated due to the sale or use of cannabis. These resources include educational and professional development support.

Mental Health

Studies have found that approximately 20 percent of those in jail and 15 percent of those in state prisons have serious mental health issues, however, that number does not include those who have a mental illness that is not considered “serious.” Serious mental illness is defined as “a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” 

Even if someone entered jail without substantial mental illness, they may have developed worsening symptoms or new illnesses since becoming incarcerated.

Working with mental health resource services can reduce the possibility of reoffense and help those previously incarcerated lead healthier, happier lives.

• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — which falls under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — provides mental health resources, including for those previously incarcerated and their families.

Volunteers of America provides both mental health and substance abuse services that are also available to those previously incarcerated.

• Mental health services are provided via your state’s Medicaid/Medicare resources. You can call your local office to get connected with in-service mental health providers.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

A three-year study by Columbia University found that up to 80 percent of those incarcerated — around 1.4 million people — were seriously involved with drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is more than just willpower or telling yourself that you can avoid temptation. 

There are many resources available to help combat drug and alcohol addiction through the mental health services mentioned above, as well as a few additional key resources.

• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a confidential, free phone service to help people find substance abuse treatment. Call 1-800-662-4357 to get in touch with a representative.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide free meetings and other resources to those dealing with addiction.

How HomeWAV Can Help

One of the greatest resources for those previously incarcerated is to stay connected to their friends and family while serving their prison sentence. HomeWAV provides voice calling, video visitation, and eMessaging to help maintain connection between those incarcerated and their loved ones. Discussing a plan of release early will help ensure a plan of action when your loved one is released. See how easy it is to use our services and reach out to us to get started.

Video Calls and Ice Breakers

Having an incarcerated parent or loved one is stressful for anyone — especially children. While there are resources for helping children with incarcerated parents that include the need for children to communicate with their parent (provided the child was not a victim of a crime and it is in the best interest of the child to do so), getting the conversation started can be difficult. No matter how close the child is to their loved one before incarceration, seeing them in-person or via voice/video calls can cause a child to become overwhelmed or shy. Often, the child does not understand how the relationship with the incarcerated parent should look.

Being prepared with ice breakers can improve children’s contact with their incarcerated parents by providing them with conversation starters that are easy for them to understand. 

How to Make Children’s Contact With Their Incarcerated Parents As Easy As Possible

Reassure the Child That They Can Discuss Their Lives and Ask Questions

To begin, it is important to note that children can often feel confused or embarrassed when talking about their outside lives to their incarcerated parent. They may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or conflicted regarding whether it is insensitive to share their lives when one parent is not capable of being there and is kept from the outside world.

Reassure them that it is alright and healthy to discuss their lives and that their parent wants to hear how they are doing.

Keep Track of Thoughts or Questions the Child Has

Kids are inherently curious. They will likely have questions that come up periodically about their incarcerated parent but will forget them when the opportunity arises to ask the parent themselves. 

Depending on the age and abilities of the child, you can keep a list of their questions on your phone or have them write their thoughts in a notebook. Reassuring them that they can ask their parent soon will help alleviate stress associated with not knowing when they will speak again, and they can be prepared with a list of their questions.

Encourage the Child to Show Off Their Talents

Studies show that when a child has outside interests and special talents — such as sports, art, dancing, or reading — it helps their confidence grow while a parent is incarcerated. Beyond praising and encouraging the child in their interests, they can showcase their talents to their incarcerated parent during video calls or in-person visitation. This will help excite them to show off and bridge the gap between the child and their parent to feel more connected and maintain a positive relationship.

If the child does not have outside interests, share pictures of projects completed at school. Save report cards, awards, or diplomas so they can be shared. Additionally, you can print these photos and send them to the parent if the jail allows, which helps children’s contact with their incarcerated parent while they are away.

Create Cards for the Parent

While this works best around holidays, there is never a bad time to create a card for a loved one. Have the child draw and decorate a card for the parent,  and spend some time allowing them to explain the card’s contents during voice or video calls. (If the jail allows you to bring in the card, this can also occur during in-person visits.) It can help break the ice and begin the conversation. Then, kids can send the card knowing the parent is already excited to receive it (plus, you can add those photos of things your child has been doing!)

Share a Favorite Story

Reading a story can be a great way to start a conversation between the child and parent. Whether you read the story to the child or they are old enough to read on their own, they will feel a sense of comfort sharing a familiar book, and can point out their favorite parts or discuss the plot and characters. From there, the conversation can expand by asking the child how they are similar to the characters, whether they have participated in specific activities outlined in the story, or asking them what they have learned from the book.

Sing Songs

While it can seem awkward at first, children feel a sense of security when singing with or being sung to by a parent. Singing a favorite or well-known song together can help soothe the child and make them comfortable enough to continue the conversation.

Understand That The Child’s Comfort Levels Will Change

Your child’s feelings toward communicating with their incarcerated parent may change over time. A previously chatty child may become suddenly shy, or they may only want to visit every other time. Whatever they are feeling is valid, even if it changes. Letting them know you accept their feelings will allow you to be a resource for children trying to navigate life with an incarcerated parent.

How HomeWAV Improves Children’s Contact With Their Incarcerated Parents

HomeWAV makes it easier than ever for children to have contact with their incarcerated parents. We provide families with access to video calls, voice calls, eMessaging, with direct scheduling in an easy-to-use app. We strongly believe in the importance of families being able to foster relationships despite someone being incarcerated.  We hope to fight against the negative impacts having an incarcerated parent can have on children. View more features of our product, or contact us for support.