RISE program provides support for caregivers of children with incarcerated parents

North Central UP

Forsyth Township, Mich. (WJMN) – Caregivers of Gwinn Area Community Schools students that are affected by incarceration can find support in the RISE program that meets twice and month at the Care Clinic in Forsyth Township.

Tiffany Green, group coordinator and current Master of Criminal Justice graduate student, says RISE stands for “recognizing incarceration through support and empathy.”

“So there’s two goals to the program, support and empathy, we provide support to families who are touched by incarceration especially children and caregivers and help them navigate that situation,” said Green. “We also aim to raise empathy for these families and the issue incarceration because it’s largely hidden and invisible in the community.”

Green also goes out into the community to explain their program and try to get donations to help the families.

“Many times economically there’s challenges when a loved one goes away especially if that person is a bread winner in the family also there’s expenses involved with going to visit a facility if they’re in touch with the parent who’s incarcerated,” said Green. “Also in general these families struggle with finding support and finding practical support.”

RISE does gift card giveaways, provides a meal at some meetings but most importantly they offer emotional support so people don’t feel so alone in their situation.

Connie Sather, co-coordinator and lead teacher at KI Sawyer Elementary, says she works with children who have a parent who is living away or a parent who might be incarcerated.

“A lot of that is trying to help kids learn how to cope with their feelings, it’s also having them understand that it’s not their fault and think about the things that are in their control and things that are not in their control,” said Sather. “We talk a lot about who are the trusted adults they can go to when they have problems.”

Sather says the program has been going well.

“It’s kindergarten through fifth grade, we’re really trying to get it started at our middle school, high school to really support those kids who have a parent they don’t get to see,” said Sather.

Sather said she’s wanted to get a program like this going for around five years and Green has been great in helping give guidance on implementing it.

Parents or caregivers of students at Gwinn Area Public Schools can reach out to Green for more information at inforiseprogram@gmail.com. The RISE program is also seeking donations of things or money. Some of the things they need for the program include:

  • Meals and/or snacks and beverages
  • Sanitation and serving supplies; disinfecting wipes/sprays, paper towels, tableware
  • Gift cards/certificates for goods and services (to assist with lost income and/or expenses of traveling to visit a facility)
  • Childcare supplies including toys, crafts, snacks, activities and possible compensation for providing supervision to children during adult meetings
  • Stamps for youth to maintain contact with an incarcerated loved one
  • Printing costs for print materials for group

To donate, checks can be made out to GACS and mailed to: ATTN: RISE Program, c/o Connie Sather, Sawyer Elementary School, 411 Scorpion Street, Gwinn, MI 49841. Questions can be directed to Tiffany Green at 906-241-3209.

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