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Update: New website for child guardians | News

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Update: New website for child guardians

Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind is one of the oldest non-profits exclusively dedicated to the child's well-being. Friday, they received a gift to help them expand their services.

One out of every 32 children has a parent locked up right now. The need is there for a fully functioning website for child guardians to know their rights and how to get services. It's been a year and a half in the making and Friday Aristotle Web Design unveiled the website for the non-profit worth $15,000.

This is a first look at the website provided by Aristotle Web Design for Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind. The organization serves 8-counties, but can now be a presence statewide.

Dee Ann Newell is the founder. She smiles, "It's such a joyful thing for us. I almost feel like we've given birth to something that's going to have such wide spread value to everybody."

Newell started the non profit in 1994 to advocate, mentor and support children left behind by an incarcerated parent. She adds, "We also can not neglect their parents, care givers, their community, their school and the other institutions that impact them."

They provide support groups, legal information, felon unemployment resources, in prison parenting classes, reunification services, technical assistance and training, suicide prevention, immigration and foster care resources.

"But also serve social workers, practitioners, policy makers to better understand what the needs of these families are." Newell adds, "We serve the parents, we try to rebuild their families and I am fortunate to have kept up with many of them."

Shawanna Lumsey went to prison while pregnant and with a small child at home. She knows first hand how one bad decision can affect a family.

She says, "I feel that our program is really making a difference in lives and we're changing lives and being a positive motivator and a positive force."

While in prison Lumsey was enrolled in Newell's parenting classes, now she is her employee at Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind and she's paying it forward.

Friday she takes her daughter to help make children's holiday without their parent a little brighter.

After handing a child presents, she says, "We're putting a smile on some of these kids' faces otherwise they wouldn't have a Christmas or wouldn't get as many things as other kids would." She continues, "I want to be a great mom regardless of the things I did, I am a great mom."

For more information on how to get involved or how Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, click here.

The U.S. has the most people in prison than anywhere in the world and more than ever more women are behind bars, two-thirds of whom are mothers.

CONTACT: Until the site is completed, please feel free to contact Dee Ann Newell on her cell phone at 501-366-3647, 501-612-9456 or 1-866-9-VOICES or by email at deeann@arkansasvoices.org or shawanna@arkansasvoices.org.