In a TODAY report, we learned about Kayla, a 7-year-old girl whose father was incarcerated when she was only four. She wanted to spend a lot of time over the summer with her father. But, life isn’t that simple for this prison daughter.
Kendal Felix, Kayla’s father, was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Brooklyn landlord Menachem Stark. This occurred during a botched robbery attempt in January 2014. He’s facing 25-years-to-life in prison.
Kayla’s Reaction When Her Father Was Incarcerated
Kayla was really disappointed and confused father was incarcerated back in 2014. Her confusion led her to asking many questions concerning her dad’s imprisonment.
The young prison daughter’s friends always asked where her father was. She would tell them he was out working, because she could not tell them the truth. The situation made her jealous of her friends, who could spend time with their fathers.
Her mother, Nathalia Charles, did not know how to answer Kayla’s questions. Watching her daughter cry was one of her worst experiences in life. She works a full time job. But, she always tries to take Kayla to visit her father in prison as often as she can.
Nathalia did not want Kayla growing up thinking going to prison is okay. She was also worried that her daughter would lose her self-confidence.
Children of Promise Brings Hope to Prison Kids
Children of Promise is an organization that reaches out to children with incarcerated parents. Their intention is to provide a safe space where kids with parents in prisons and jails can:
- Come together
- Share their experiences
- Receive various needed services
What makes this organization unique and innovative is that it infuses mental health within the program. The Children of Promise organization has designed a summer camp and after school projects.
These are attended by Kayla, which have helped since father was incarcerated.
How Children of Promise NYC Benefits Kayla and Her Mom
Nathalia received counsel at the Children of Promise’s flagship location in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. She said that they helped her find the appropriate language to talk to her daughter at her age and explain where he father was.
Kayla found a sense of community at Children of Promise. She found comfort in knowing there were other people going through similar situations like hers. Her mom even noticed a difference with her that she hadn’t seen in a while since her father was incarcerated.
“‘The hardest part of raising a child whose father has been incarcerated is the social stigma,’ Nathalia explains. She worked hard to ensure he daughter did not become a statistic. Despite her efforts, Kayla still ended up in becoming a statistic.”
Video: Special Program Offers Hope To Kids With Parents In Prison | TODAY
Kayla’s father was incarcerated in January 2014. He’s already been found guilty of crimes, and is awaiting sentencing. Her mother took her to Children of Promise NYC for help. The program helped them both find a sense of belonging and understanding there.
Today, Kayla attends its after-school program and summer camp for kids with parents in jails and prisons. Check out the video below for details on the Children of Promise program.
Are there any programs like these in your area that help and support children with incarcerated parents?
We’d love to hear about them. Share with us in the comments below.