History of Arkansas Voices
Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, Inc., a statewide not-for-profit organization,
began in 1994 as a grassroots coalition of 32 groups dedicated to building community
awareness of the growing number of incarcerated mothers and their children, along with
community organizing of grandparent and other relative caregivers throughout the state.
In 1995, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation funded the pilot Project for Kinship Caregivers
and Children of Incarcerated Parents in Pulaski County, AR to collect data and evaluate the
progress of participants in weekly caregiver support groups and therapeutic groups for the
children and youth. Continued support from the Rockefeller Foundation enabled key members
of the original grassroots coalition to become a 501(c) 3 organization in 2002 and provided
for board training by Peter Breen, a Fellow of the national Child Welfare League of America,
with the non-profit named Arkansas voices for the Children Left Behind (AV).
For over 15 years, the organization has remained the sole non-profit organization whose
mission is to develop a full spectrum of flexible support services for children of incarcerated
parents and parents who are otherwise criminal justice-involved, support for parents who
are incarcerated or returning from incarceration, to maintain their relationships with their
children, where appropriate, while offering trainings and technical assistance, along with
public awareness events.
There is a scarcity of literature on successful interventions for children of incarcerated parents
and their families. However, programs that appear to be the most promising are those that
provide multiple intervention services and are flexible enough to account for the needs of
individual families. The services offered by Arkansas Voices represent "promising practices,"
as implemented by other programs around the country. All have been evaluated by external
evaluators, and the data analyses have been used to develop program components and
facilitate decisions related to future programming.