Get On The Bus (GOTB) brings children and their caregivers from throughout the State of California to visit the parent who is in prison, at no cost to the family. Each child is provided with a travel bag, a photo with their parent and meals for the day. On the return trip there is a receiving place at which time there are snacks and each child receives a teddy bear that has an attached note, written by the parent. On the bus there is a licensed counselor available to the adults and children. All the GOTB volunteers who travel on the bus and help out during the visit are fingerprinted. Get On The Bus is a program of The Center for Restorative Justice Works, a nonprofit organization, in North Hollywood, CA.
Get On The Bus can only take place through the generosity of individuals and groups who have a heart for this special event. Money is a big need for direct and indirect costs. According to Elizabeth Gaynes, Executive Director of the Osborne Association, “Research consistently demonstrates that supporting this parent-child relationship meets the needs and respects the right of children, and strengthening the family leads to improved outcomes for parents and their children during and following incarceration.” We share some of this research here.
Why do children and families need Get On The Bus? Research has shown:
California has the largest prison system in the U.S. 195,000 children have a parent in state prison and another 97,000 have parents in county jail. 65% of women and 55% of men in prison are parents to minor children.
A large percentage of the mothers and fathers are sentenced to prisons more than 100 miles from home. There is a disparate impact on families of color, with African-American children nine times more likely and Hispanic children three times more likely than white children to have a parent in prison.
Sister Coutu is available to meet with groups and organizations interested in supporting GOTB. DVD resources detailing hoe funda are used are available in English and Spanish.If you would like to know more or are willing to help out in some way please contact Sister Elaine Coutu, firstname.lastname@example.org; (408) 223-2802.