Video: Serving Children With Moms in Prison During a Pandemic

Video: Serving Children With Moms in Prison During a Pandemic

A new video highlights our Play Free/Connect Through Play program, which serves children with incarcerated mothers⁠—or in some cases, grandmothers. Prior to the pandemic, these children were invited to the museum for a fun day of play just for them and their moms.

For the children served in Play Free, their school buildings closing and isolation from friends and family during the pandemic were more difficult transitions in a lifetime already marked by uncertainty and loss. Topeka Correctional Facility acted quickly to keep the virus out of the prison, suspending in-person visits and outside activities like Play Free. Museum staff, working from their homes, and later from a closed building, worked to rethink the program. How could the museum serve these children in a way that supported their relationships in the same way Play Free did?

Serving Children With Moms in Prison During a Pandemic

Much like when we created the program, adapting it to the pandemic started with listening to those who the program would serve. We implemented surveys to ask women how online visits with their children were going. We heard from women that Zoom visits with their children were challenging. They reported children had a hard time connecting. Conversation stalled. They didn’t know what to ask their children about. Connected Through Play sent STEAM-based learning kits to children, and corresponding play guides to their mothers. The program was designed to encourage STEAM-based educational play, strengthen the relationships between mothers and children, and promote positive parenting.

The program is supported by donations, so please consider giving to ensure the future of Play Free.