MHP   |  October 27, 2012

A chance for children with incarcerated parents

Melissa Harris-Perry's "Foot Soldier" of the week is Sharon Content, who is helping young children who have incarcerated parents overcome stigma in order to succeed.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a study released by the u.s. senate in 2001 found that 70% of children of incarcerated parents end up entering the criminal justice system at some point in their lives. our foot soldier this week is trying to change that. her name is sharon content. after giving up a wall street job to work in the nonprofit world she encountered the dilemma of kids with imprisoned parents. it felt like a problem but no solution. kid with incarcerated parents face embarrassment stigma and shame. behavioral issues, lack of interest in school work , anger, even health problems. sharon decided to give these kids a place to go. in 2007 , sharon founded children of promise, a nonprofit organization in brooklyn, new york, that serves children of incarcerated parents. now in a lot of ways it functions just like an after-school program or a traditional summer camp . art classes, sports, academic support. but children of promise offers much more. it also offers a mentoring program, safe spaces for children to share their similar experiences. and as of a year ago, also a licensed mental health clinic. sharon describes her work in her own words.

>> the real reason that the program was developed so that we could provide really the mental health services that our young people need. and to be able to really get at the root of the problems. if we're able to get at the root of the problems, then we can find various outlets for our young people to really focus on the areas of need in a way that they're not even recognizing through the help of support staff that they just see as being their counselors.

>> remember that study which found 70% of children of incarcerated parents. children of promise says 500 people, not one child who has entered the program has entered into the criminal justice system . sharon 's progress continues. a few months ago the organization purchased a 15-seater van which staff used weekly to drive to the different correctional facilities in new york state which allows children to visit their parents. for taking action to care for the most vulnerable among us and making a difference in hundreds of lives, sharon content is our foot soldier of the week. you can learn more about sharon and her program on our web site , mhpshow.com. that's our show for today. thanks to ben cohen , matt flore and valerie for sticking around. i'll see you tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m . eastern. right now "weekends with alex witt ." [