SOURCE: Get On The Bus

Get On The Bus

May 02, 2011 16:59 ET

Hundreds of Children Visit Incarcerated Moms for Mother's Day at Eleventh Annual 'Get On The Bus' Event

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 2, 2011) - Center for Restorative Justice Works and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are again bringing together hundreds of children to visit their incarcerated mothers to celebrate Mother's Day during this 12th Annual Get On The Bus event.

Thirty buses filled with more than 700 children and their caregivers will be traveling from Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, San Bernardino, Riverside and other cities throughout the state early on Saturday, May 7, 2011 and Saturday May 14th, 2011 to one of three female institutions: California Institution for Women in Corona and Central California Women's Facility and Valley State Prison for Women, both in Chowchilla. The buses will arrive between 8 and 10 a.m. to accommodate the greatest number of visitors in visiting rooms with limited space.

"Get On The Bus anticipates bringing 1,200 children together with their mother or father this year," said Get On The Bus Director Hilary Carson. "Visits allow parents and children to maintain their existing relationships, which leads to a more successful reunification after incarceration."

Approximately 200,000 children in California have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or in foster care, according to CDCR. Approximately 75 percent of incarcerated females are mothers.

"This program exists specifically for children. They are the hidden victims who are suffering especially in these stressful economic times when families do not have the extra funds to visit. Distance is the number one reason these children have been unable to see their parents," said executive director, Sister Suzanne Jabro. "Get on the Bus helps them to see, touch, and speak to their mother and father. They did nothing wrong. They just want to be held and loved by their mother and they need to know that she is safe."

For many of these children, this is the only time during the year that they will see their mother. Children with mothers in prison are usually cared for by relatives, often grandparents, who are unable to make the drive due to distance or expense.

Get On The Bus provides free transportation for children and their caregivers, travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her mother, and meals for the day. Children will also be wearing Get On The Bus t-shirts with the names of donors and supporters. The meals include breakfast, snacks on the bus, lunch at the prison and dinner on the way home. On the bus trip home following the visit with the mothers, each child will receive a teddy bear with a letter from his or her mother as well as post-event counseling. The program is funded by donations from churches, schools, family foundations, grants and other organizations.

"We have a responsibility to bring these families together," added Sister Suzanne, who has spearheaded this event for 12 years. "A child needs to see their reflection in a mother's eyes."

Get On The Bus will also reunite children with their dads for Father's Day. Twenty four buses carrying children and their caregivers will visit six men's institutions: California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo on Saturday, June 4, Old Folsom on June 11; Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California State Prison-Solano on Saturday, and San Quentin State Prison on June 18.

The media is invited to ride local buses and/or attend the prison events in Corona and Chowchilla. Gate clearance is required.

For CIW: Contact Lt. Felix Figueroa at (909) 597-1771 x 4921.
For CCWF: Contact Lt. Travis Wright (559) 665-5531 x 5550.
For VSPW: Contact Lt. Greg Bergerson at (559) 665-6100 x 5509.

To view highlights of last year's event, visit http://www.youtube.com/CAcorrections#p/c/568AE1C483A924DF/37/O3p7xiQAbTM .

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Hilary Carson
    Get On The Bus
    Director
    (818) 980-7714 ext. 12