Children of Incarcerated Parents (C.O.I.P) is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded by Barbara
Courtney in 2012 and incorporated in 2013.  C.O.I.P. provides services to mitigate the social and
emotional impact on children with an incarcerated parent. C.O.I.P. raises awareness about children
who are dealing with anger, shame, anxiety, and abandonment issues because of a parent who is
currently or has been incarcerated. The mission of C.O.I.P. is to mend the broken hearts and heal the
souls of children who have lost a parent to incarceration.  
What Becomes of A Broken Heart? Here is the true story of Children of Incarcerated Parents
founder Barbara Courtney. At the age of 10 years old, my mother passed away, and my oldest
sister—only 21 at the time—raised 10 children that were left behind. I turned to the streets,
I was looking for a way to ease the pain of losing a beautiful mother. What I found instead was more
pain. I found myself serving prison time and my children were experiencing the same hurt as I had—the
loss of a mother. The truth is the trauma and grief don’t just go away. It can remain for a lifetime. I
know how going through this loss can traumatize a person, especially a child.
I am a social worker and have been active in the community for over 20 years. My personal experiences
and expertise in crisis intervention, case management, social services, drug/alcohol counseling, and
group/individual counseling. Has been a great asset. As well as a motivational speaker and an advocate
for children of incarcerated parents. I am being a parent who knows about the criminal system. My
commitment to addressing family and community issues is relentless. 
C.O.I. P. primary goal is to empower, caregivers, and families to take control of their destiny and function
productively by providing necessary skills such as education, social and motivational skills training, and
participation in collaborative activities to become successful and healthy in their life journey. The
target population is children and youth ages 5 to 18 whose parent is incarcerated and caregivers who
support and oversee their well-being. C.O.I.P. is committed to serving the invisible children and their
families no matter what their status or zip codes they live in. Most of our children and families
experience discrimination as well as stigma against them based upon an incarcerated parent.
We need to remember children will love their parents regardless of what any of us think or feel. What are
their rights? They do have rights. When you interact with children remember their bill of rights.

The Bill of Rights
for Children of
1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my
parent's arrest.
2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about
3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made
about my parent.
4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent's absence.
5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
6. I have the right to support as I face my parent's incarceration.
7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because
my parent is incarcerated.
8. I have the right to a lifelong relationship with my parent.
Let’s keep our head up and Always believe there is light at the end of
the tunnel.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas please do not
hesitate to share. My email address:

Barbara Courtney, Cascade Media Group Columnist


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