GEM Receives Grant from the Texas Bar Foundation
Girls Embracing Mothers (GEM) has received $4,000 from the Texas Bar Foundation to help fund the Pearl Program.
The need for services provided by GEM is great. 1.7 million children in this country have a parent serving a sentence in a state or federal prison. Approximately half of the children with incarcerated parents are under 10 years old. Related to this, is the increasing number of mothers who are incarcerated, which has more than doubled in the past 20 years. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports nearly 20,000 women are in state and federal prisons in Texas.
The purpose of the Pearl Program is to lessen the impact of maternal separation due to incarceration by strengthening the mother-daughter relationship during the mother's incarceration through enhanced visitation sessions. Through our partnership with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, GEM serves girls with mothers in prison by taking them to visit their mothers in Gatesville the first Saturday of each month for an enhanced 4-hour visitation session. GEM provides “more than just a visit” by introducing and encouraging facilitated discussions between the mothers and daughters that are open and honest and revolve around critical life issues while building the mother-daughter bond.
Without GEM, many girls would be unable to see their mothers often – if at all. In addition to lowering the likelihood of recidivism among incarcerated parents, there is strong evidence that maintaining contact with one’s incarcerated parent improves a child’s emotional response to the incarceration and supports parent-child attachment.
Upon the mother's release from prison, mothers and daughters are encouraged to remain actively involved with GEM, by volunteering and sharing their insight and experiences with current participants—making “Breaking the Cycle - Building the Bond” a consistent theme in their lives.
"Children of incarcerated parents are among the most at-risk, yet least visible, populations of children. The genorous support from the Texas Bar Foundation will help bring visibility to this underserved population and more imporantly, provide programming that will empower our girls to break the cycle of incarceration and lead successful lives with vision and purpose," says GEM Founder, Brittany K. Byrd - a Dallas attorney with first-hand knowledge of the needs of girls with mothers in prison. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.