Children’s Activities…A Hands on Experience!

At a recent training, our Program Directors and Transportation Coordinators had the opportunity to learn more about life span development  and how to assist in children’s activities. Part of the training was a hands on experience with an activity in one of the different age groups. Check out this month’s activities as performed by the staff!

Infants: Texture Box


  1. Cardboard box
  2. Different textures such as carpet, fabric, sandpaper, cotton balls, etc
  3. Glue


  1. Glue textures to the outside of the box
  2. Place box on ground level for infants to access or hold it in your lap and explore the textures together


Infants learn about the world by seeing, touching, tasting, and hearing. A texture box is an opportunity for touch sensory and language development. While your baby touches, describe what she is feeling!

Toddlers: Home Made Bubbles


  1. See here


  1. Mix materials as described above


Who doesn’t love bubbles? Toddlers love to explore their world and learn about cause and effect.

Preschoolers: Shape Shake


  1. String
  2. Cardboard
  3. Scissors


  1. Cut shapes from cardboard; cut a hole in the center of each shape
  2. Put shapes on string
  3. Tie string to a doorknob or have a friend hold the other end
  4. Try to shake the shape from one end to the other!


Preschoolers gain large and small motor skills, social skills (if done with a friend), and cause/effect skills by experimenting with center holes of different sizes, how fast/hard they shake the string, and how the incline of the string changes how fast the shape travels.

Middle Childhood: The Gift of Community


  1. The Gift (free, downloadable book)


  1. Activities can be found here


The Gift (and the matching activities) teach children the importance of a diverse community and respect for all interests.

Tweens and Teens: Healthy Body Image


  1. Teen magazines
  2. Scissors


  1. See activities here(we focused on Living in a Supersized World)


By analyzing media, teens will recognize the messages sent and how they effect self image and self worth.




The Prison Law Office recently updated the manual designed for noncitizen prisoners in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Information covered includes immigration detainers, grounds and relief for deportation, deportation proceedings, removal orders, and resources available.

You can view the manual here. Inmates can access the manual in their prison’s law library.

Happy Heart Health Month!

February is American Heart Month, which is meant to bring awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death.

Our Children’s Program Coordinators will complete heart healthy activities with children (and their caregivers!) at the Visitor Centers. If you’d like to see these activities plus many more, check out the education resource section of

The American Heart Association website,, has information and resources for people of all ages. We encourage you to check it out and share with others.


Research shows that physical and emotional activities directly correlate. When you exercise, endorphins are released and you feel better emotionally. The opposite is also true! When you have a rough day, your body feels tired and broken down. Both affect heart health; for the most part, happier, more physically active people live longer!

The Children's Monitor

Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee’s Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity Subcommittee passed by voice vote the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 32). This bill streamlines the homeless referral process by amending the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition of homelessness to include children, youth, and their families who are verified as homeless by other federal programs, including McKinney-Vento school district liaisons, Head Start programs, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C early intervention programs. Modeled on child nutrition and higher education policies, it also allows these programs to refer clients to HUD in addition to making them eligible for HUD services. In practice, these changes would cover children, youth and families who live in temporary, unstable situations, including with other households and in motels.

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How California is cracking down on contraband in state prisons

Contraband: (n)  1. illegal or prohibited traffic in goods (smuggling) 2. goods or merchandise whose importation, exportation, or possession is forbidden

$5000. 6 months. A misdemeanor/felony charge. Three of the more obvious consequences for those who choose to bring contraband into a correctional facility. But what about the chain reaction effects…Children who watch their caregiver’s arrest, more familial impact, denial of future visits. 

If you’ve visited a correctional facility, you’ve likely seen the large signs at the gate entrance about illegal items. Bringing contraband to a correctional facility is an illegal activity with many consequences to the person who brings it, the inmate who is caught with it, and other staff, inmates, and visitors, including children who are with the person bringing in the contraband.

For the person who bring contraband in: A fine, jail time, loss of future visits, and a misdemeanor/felony charge

For inmates caught with contraband: Days lost of good time credit and loss of privileges

For other inmates, officers, visitors, and children: Disruption of their visit, the trauma of seeing their caregiver arrested, and safety concerns. Children may be taken into CPS custody if their caregivers are arrested.

In Fall 2011, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 26 (SB26), which makes it a misdemeanor to those try to take a cell phone into a prison or own an unauthorized cell phone in prison.

If you want more information about SB 26 and illegal cell phone usage in prison, check out the video above or click here. If you would like more information on receiving phone calls from inmates, check out the bilingual information sheets here.

The Visiting a Friend or Loved One in Prison guide lists all items allowed in the visiting room along with other visiting regulations.  Visitor Centers can help clarify any questions you have about approved items. If you would like to send money to an inmate, you can find more information here. Information on approved inmate package vendors can be found here.

Lastly, if you feel threatened or intimidated by the person you visit to bring contraband, resources are available here or by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Unapproved items…Contraband…are a safety and security risk. Let’s keep our loved ones inside and out of prison safe by keeping unapproved items out.

Holiday Wish 2011…A Heartwarming Success!

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

-Mother Teresa

In mid December, we had the pleasure of hosting over 60 children and their caregivers in a fun filled day at the Friends and Family Neighborhood Center. In addition to picking up their gifts, families were invited to snap a picture together, take part in activities, and share cookies and cider with each other.

Check out some of the photos from the event!

Friends Outside and all of the children sponsored this season give our deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone who helped make this season brighter for those impacted by incarceration. Thanks to our sponsors, over 60 children in our community received not only what money bought them but a wonderful memory to hold on to and the knowledge they are not alone and deserve more out of life.

Information for Those Who Work with Children of Incarcerated Parents

I’ve been a social worker for a long time and it’s heartbreaking when I see our kids grow up in foster care and go from group home, to juvenile hall, to jail and then to prison. And then, I see their children come into the foster care system, and the generational cycle starts again. The corrections and child welfare system are two complicated bureaucracies, often serving the same families, but each operating on different timelines, different rules, different funding. If corrections and child welfare could put our collective resources together, perhaps we can stop this cruel, vicious cycle.”  —Susan Arding, founding member of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative and supervising social worker for the San Francisco Human Services Agency

We know that children of incarcerated parents face unique challenges and sometimes the work can feel overwhelming.

When a Parent is Incarcerated, a primer for social workers by Friends Outside board member Yali Lincroft, provides statistics and basic information about corrections and child welfare. The guide addresses visiting, immigration issues, and other issues social workers may be faced with.

The primer also includes Ten Tips for Kinship Caregivers of Children of Incarcerated Parents by Dee Ann Newell, Director and Founder of Arkansas Voices. This tips sheet is similar to the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights.

Return of Family Liaison Services in the State Prisons!

Great news, everyone! Family Liaison Services, formerly known as the Case Management Program, has returned!

Family Liaison Services Specialists(FLSS) will provide the following services in 16 California State Prisons:

Pre-Release Planning: FLSS work with those incarcerated to create a release plan which addresses needs such as employment, health care, housing, education, and other community connections.

Communication with Support Systems: Research shows that strong support systems and a stable relationship with family and friends reduces the likelyhood that a person will re-offend. FLSS facilitate communications with family and friends to help strengthen bonds and plan for a return to the community.

Parenting Classes: Incarcerated parents and others who are in a parent or caregiver role learn child development, health and safety, nutrition, and techniques of parent-child communication. Participants are shown ways to provide positive guidance discipline that encourages good behavior in place of punishment. Family relationship skills are taught and practiced.

Anger Management Classes: Anger Management Skills Training is based upon the evidence-based Anderson and Anderson model of anger management, the world’s most effective and widely recognized anger management curriculum.  The program focuses on enhanced emotional intelligence and assertive communication while introducing behavioral strategies to identify and manage anger and stress.

Creative Conflict Resolution: Following the successful Alternatives to Violence Quaker model, CCR is a strength-based, intensive, interactive group experience which addresses the special treatment needs of people with anger issues.

Resource and Referral: FLSS refer families to social supports within their communities to cope with and manage a variety of emergencies.

Also, we want to welcome Erika Stroh, Southern Regional Director for the FLS program. Erika was a Case Manager for two years previously for Friends Outside. She is very excited to be back!

Look for services to begin soon at High Desert State Prison, California Correctional Center, Pelican Bay State Prison, California Men’s Colony, California Training Facility, Salinas Valley State Prison, San Quentin, Lancaster, Centinela, California Institution for Men, California Institution for Women, California Rehabilitation Center, Chuckawalla Valley, Ironwood, RJ Donovan, and Calpatria!

December’s Activities!

Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.

Infants/Toddlers: Torn Paper Snowscape

Goals addressed

Goal #5: To learn about moving and doing (fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination)

Goal #6: To acquire thinking skills (gain understanding of basic concepts and relationships)


  1. Black or blue construction paper
  2. White tissue paper (other colors optional)
  3. Glue


  1. Have child tear the white tissue paper
  2. Help child glue tissue paper to the black/blue paper
  3. More advanced children can use other colors to build houses, trees, snowmen, etc in the background

Preschool: Snowball Fun

Goals addressed

Goal #10: Plays well with other children

Goal #18: Demonstrates throwing skills


  1. Sheets of white paper
  2. Laundry basket/hoola hoop


  1. Make snowballs by crumpling paper
  2. See how many you can throw inside the basket or hoop!

Middle Childhood: Winter Magazine Scavenger Hunt

Goals addressed

1. Industry: Competence and self confidence


  1. Magazines
  2. Glue
  3. Construction paper


  1. If you have enough children, divide them into two or more teams
  2. Have the children/teams go through magazines and find items associated with winter (gloves, scarves, snowmen, etc)
  3. Glue them to the paper
  4. The team with the most, wins!

Teens: Ice Sculptures

Goals addressed

1. Identity


  1. Food coloring
  2. Water
  3. Ice Trays
  4. Molds/Muffin tins/Other containers


  1. Freeze colored water into ice trays and other containers
  2. Using water to fuse different parts together, have children create sculptures!

All Ages: Snowflakes!


  1. Paper
  2. Scissors


  1. Have children fold paper 2-4 times
  2. Cut lines and shapes into the folded parts of the paper
  3. Open!