By Dana Simas, Information Officer I | OPEC

For a dozen years, CDCR and the Center for Restorative Justice Works have collaborated to allow children to celebrate Mother’s Day with their mothers in prison. Often it is the only time these children get to see their mothers while they are incarcerated.

Twenty-five buses filled with more than a thousand children and their caregivers will travel throughout the state – from San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Central Valley, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Rosa – on Saturday, May 5, to California Institution for Women and Friday, May 11, to Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla.

Approximately 200,000 California children have an incarcerated parent and live with relatives or in foster care. Children with mothers in prison usually are cared for by relatives, often grandparents, who are unable to make the drive due to distance or expense.

“Get on the Bus” provides free transportation for children and their caregivers, travel bags for the children, comfort care bags for the caregivers, a photograph of each child with his or her mother, and meals for the day. On the bus trip home, after the visit with the mothers, each child will receive a teddy bear with a letter from his or her mother, as well as post-event counseling. The program is funded by grants and donations from churches, schools, family foundations, and other organizations.

“Get on the Bus” was founded 13 years ago by Sister Suzanne Jabro after learning from the women she visited in prison that they never had a chance to see their children. Staying connected is just as important for incarcerated mothers and fathers as it is for their children.