The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) along with the Sesame Workshop have partnered to help support young children process the array of emotions when a life-changing circumstance occurs and a parent becomes incarcerated.  

The CDCR is one of ten Departments selected within the United States to pilot the initiative and will help support families by making available parent education toolkits during family visits.  Nationally, the number of children with an incarcerated parent has increased nearly 80% in the past 20 years with nearly 2.7 million children affected by an incarcerated parent.

Sesame Workshop is working with advisors and partners to distribute and integrate Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration resources into organizations that specialize in early childhood education, mental health and counseling, parenting programs, foster care, and community partners that have a mission specific to helping families cope with the incarceration of a loved one.  Participating states that will pilot a deeper implementation of the resources includes Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration Initiative provides children with the tools and information to express emotions.  For parents or caregivers the toolkit includes resources to work through and foster age-appropriate positive communication about the impacts of incarceration.
The initiative is designed to address some of the most difficult emotions children experience when a family member is incarcerated.  The program helps to foster much needed support, comfort, and aims to reduce anxiety, sadness, and the confusion that children age 3-8 may experience when a parent is incarcerated.
With an understanding that parents, as well as, caregivers require strategies, tips and educational resources, this initiative will help break down communication barriers while providing helpful tools that will help children communicate using simple parenting tips to lead effective communication related to incarceration.
Little Children, Big Challenges is designed to:
·         Support, comfort, and reduce anxiety, sadness, and confusion that young children experience during the incarceration of a parent
·         Provide at-home caregivers with strategies, tips, and age-appropriate language they can use to help communicate with their children about incarceration
·         Inform incarcerated parents themselves that they can parent from anywhere, and provide them with the simple parents tips highlighting the importance of communication
“Sesame Workshop has always been at the forefront of creating resources for families with young children to help address some of life’s most difficult issues,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop. “Little Children, Big Challenge: Incarceration tackles a very difficult topic, one for which there are scant resources to help young children, and best of all, it approaches these difficult transitions in the way that only Sesame Street and our trusted Muppets can.”
Youtube: Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration Video

To request a parent education toolkit or for additional information about the Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration Initiative, please call Albert Rivas at (916) 324-6508 or by email at 
En Espanol:
Niños pequeños, retos grandes: Encarcelamiento