Senator Tim Kennedy Announces $180,000 Grant to Bring Osborne Association's FamilyWorks Program to Buffalo to Allow Families to Visit with Incarcerated Loved Ones via Video

25 April 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) joined leaders from the Osborne Association and Community Health Center of Buffalo to announce a $180,000 grant he secured in the state budget to launch FamilyWorks Buffalo, a new program that will offer community outreach, training, and technical assistance to Buffalo agencies, and free, clinically-supported video visiting to children of incarcerated parents. The program will build on the Osborne Association’s longstanding services for children and families, utilizing existing technology and scheduling infrastructure that have been developed over the past two decades in partnership with the state. The groundbreaking program will allow families to visit with their incarcerated loved ones via video at eight prisons. Family-friendly video visiting rooms are designed as living room spaces and include toys and books, allowing families to feel comfortable and at home while e-visiting with family members. While the video visits are not meant to replace in-person visits, which are critical for building and maintaining a parent-child bond, they will supplement them and give families additional opportunities to interact with their incarcerated loved ones.

“The negative impact on the children of incarcerated adults can often be overlooked,” said Senator Kennedy. “It is critical that we do all that we can to ease the stress imposed on children and families affected by incarceration, including by expanding opportunities to communicate in a family-like setting with parents. Children of incarcerated adults should not be written off. They should be given every opportunity to thrive, succeed, and build important familial relationships, and with these tools, they can. I thank the Osborne Association and Community Health Center of Buffalo for their proactive approach.”

“Family separation by incarceration is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a child. Now, thanks to the $180,000 grant secured by my colleague Senator Kennedy, the Osborne Association FamilyWorks Program will be able help make that separation a little less painful for parents and their young children through video visits. This program is just another example of our commitment to providing a way to keep to families together no matter what their challenges might be,” said Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

“Children—all children—need to know their parents are safe and be able to see, hear, and whenever possible, touch their moms or dads,” said Liz Gaynes, President and CEO of the Osborne Association. “For the thousands of children in Western NY with incarcerated parents—who are often housed hundreds of miles from home in areas not accessible by public transportation—the cost and distance to visit in person can be far too great. Osborne is pleased to work with Dr. LaVonne Ansari and her team to open this new FamilyWorks site at the Community Health Center of Buffalo. Osborne will offer supportive services and video visiting to maintain and strengthen family connections during incarceration. We look forward to supporting agencies and programs that serve families and justice-involved individuals to ensure that the needs of children of incarcerated parents are understood and met, and that children and families have the love and support needed to thrive. The Osborne Association thanks Senator Tim Kennedy for his leadership and funding support, as well as Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.”

“We are excited to partner with the Osborne Association on FamilyWorks Buffalo,” said Dr. LaVonne Ansari, CEO of the Community Health Center of Buffalo. “This is another opportunity for the Community Health Center of Buffalo to be a safety net for families enduring the incarceration of their loved ones. Relationships with family play an integral role in the reintegration process for those coming home. Being able to provide children a viable, sustainable connection with their parents helps build foundations that may not have existed prior to their separation. We are pleased to be a part of this exciting, groundbreaking initiative.”

Children of incarcerated adults need tools to express their emotions and to be reassured that they are not going through this traumatic situation alone. The FamilyWorks Buffalo program will build on Osborne’s decades of experience. The organization was founded in 1933, and designs, implements, and advocates for solutions that address the damage caused by crime and incarceration. Their work creates an opportunity for more than 14,000 individuals every year who have been affected by the criminal justice system, helping them to lead meaningful lives with accountability and self-determination. The organization has a presence in New York City courts, Rikers Island jails, thirty New York State prisons, as well as community sites in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

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For more information, contact:
Jonathan Stenger
jstenger@osborneny.org
347-306-0853