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Sesame Street gives voice, resources to children of incarcerated parents

This week, Sesame Workshop announced its newest initiative: Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration, which will provide educational resources for caregivers and children impacted by parental incarceration.

As I’ve talked to colleagues and friends about this project and its upcoming release, I’ve been surprised by the reactions. Their responses have ranged from, “Wow, how great that Sesame Street is tackling this issue!” to “Is that really what our world has come to, the Muppets’ parents are now in jail?”

Combined, these reactions summarize important points about this issue. Parental incarceration is a large and growing problem in our country, but it’s a topic that has not garnered much attention from either scientific or media communities, and many people’s initial reactions to the topic are generally negative.

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New Sesame Street initiative taps U of M researcher for roll out

A new Sesame Workshop initiative will get big backing from a University of Minnesota researcher. Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration supports families with young children who have an incarcerated parent, through the use of interactive and age-appropriate resources. Minnesota is one of just 10 pilot states involved with the effort.

The program was highlighted at the White House in Washington, D.C.  Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics, took part in the event.  Shlafer was joined by other experts in this field from across the country in an effort to call attention to the importance of this serious issue.

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