OKLAHOMA CITY – The first day of class should be carefree for little ones but for the children of inmates, it’s a much different story.
In Oklahoma, there are more than 26,000 prisoners who are parents of young children.
It is a crisis one local school is addressing with a simple idea.
“Only by the grace of God did I not end up in prison, and I sometimes wonder why I was drawn to corrections, and I think as I developed over the years I learned that if not for mentors in my life growing up the way that I did,” Justin Jones, former director of Oklahoma Department of Corrections and new chairman for the school, said.
Officials say children with incarcerated parents are 70 percent more likely to go to prison by their 25th birthday.
It’s a staggering rate Jones believes can be erased by Little Light Christian School.
“If we’re ever going to reduce the number of inmates going into the correctional system, we have to start with the children,” Jones said.
Little Light Christian School is completely tuition free.
“They get that individualized attention that you wouldn’t get in a normal public school classroom,” Jones said.
They provide transportation, multiple meals a day and also help with the transition process for parents when they are released from prison.
“We are a safety net for their families,” said Robin Khoury, the founder and principal of Little Light Christian School, said.
“We are wanting to break the cycle of incarceration in Oklahoma for children of incarcerated parents,” she added.
The nonprofit takes $180,000 to run each year.
For more information, visit the school’s website.