Hour Children’s mission is to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent and secure lives. To accomplish this, Hour Children provides compassionate and comprehensive services and encourages all to live and interact with dignity and respect.
Hour Children’s vision is to break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration.
Hour Children’s Core Values shape our organizational culture and guide how we interact, work and make decisions.
Capacity for Change: We believe in the capacity of all persons to change for the better.
Dignity and Respect: We believe in the inherent worth of all human beings; that all persons deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Through our programs, communications, and everyday interactions we strive to affirm the dignity, potential, and contribution of our participants, board, donors, staff, volunteers, partners and larger community.
Diversity: We embrace, encourage and support diversity. Our staff and our participants have diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, beliefs, perspectives, and lifestyles. We believe diversity is a source of strength and pride and is an essential part of who we are and how we operate.
Personalized Services: We believe “One Size” does not fit all. We strive to personalize our services to meet the unique strengths and needs of each of our participants. We believe our participants deserve personalized services and that customized services will lead to better and more sustainable positive outcomes.
Accountability and Responsibility: We believe that fostering an environment in which participants and staff are held accountable for their actions will lead to more effective programs and better outcomes. Hour Children is accountable to our participants and donors to do our best to fulfill our mission. We hold our participants accountable to do their best to achieve their goals and make positive changes in their lives.
Hour Commitment Starts Inside: Our presence and services inside the prisons and jails provide hope, encouragement, and support. We believe this can lead to a more successful transition into the community and better outcomes for our participants.
Our goals are to ensure that the children in our care are healthy, socially well-adjusted and achieving academically, and that their mothers make a successful transition to independent living.
We work closely with each mother, tracking her progress or addressing problems with obtaining a job, managing a household, and caring for her children. On a long-range basis, we keep track of program participants to ensure that they are still employed and housed, and have not returned to prison.
Why Hour Children is Unique
The delivery of services we provide to women on both sides of the “wall” is unmatched. When women leave prison, formerly incarcerated women face a mountain of challenges beyond their prison record and the associated social stigma. They generally have few job skills, little education and few, if any, financial resources. In addition, many of these women are still recovering from childhood physical and sexual abuse. So we start from square one, providing housing and childcare. During their time with us, women complete their education, obtain marketable job skills, and learn home and financial management skills – to do the most with the resources that they have. Hour Children also maintains relationships with community organizations that can facilitate job placement. When “Hour” women are ready, we also help secure affordable housing.
More than 70% of the women are from the NYC metropolitan area. Fifty-one percent are first-time offenders; 75% are incarcerated for non-violent, drug-related offenses. Their economic status, prior to incarceration, was almost always low-income, often below the federal poverty threshold. An estimated 50% have been victims of domestic violence.
There are more than 11,000 children in New York State whose mothers are imprisoned. Many are sent to live with relatives or foster families, and are shunted from household to household and school to school. The child’s insecurities are worsened by the fact that their mother have little or no access to phones. The absence of their mother leaves them vulnerable, particularly the older children, who face increased risk of involvement with crime, substance abuse, truancy, and other anti-social behaviors. Without proper care and attention, these children also become victims of the prison system. The core of Hour Children’s work is to reverse this vicious cycle.