Extended Family began nearly twenty years ago when Laure Clemons’ husband went to prison.  Laure speaks to groups across the country about her experience, “The day my husband went to prison I knew we would continue to be a family – but I had no idea how.”  She looked for resources to help her and her teenage daughters cope and found nothing.  Laure founded Extended Family to prevent other families who were dealing with the effects of having a loved one incarcerated from experiencing those same feelings of isolation that her family felt.  Her creation has helped thousands of families learn how to successfully adjust to a new way of life with a free, solution-based approach to the prison experience. 

Extended Family offers one-on-one support daily to people who reach out for help, whether by phone, email, or on social media.  When someone calls Extended Family, they speak to a family member of a prisoner who understands.  We answer questions about the prison system, visitation, phone calls, and how to be supportive of the incarcerated family member while still supporting themselves.  We discuss ways of talking to children about incarceration and how to help them continue to be successful at home and school, without carrying the shame of having a loved one incarcerated with messages like, “It’s not your fault!” and, “You don’t have to do their time!”  Our staff are trained to share techniques for getting through the prison experience that really work.

In addition to the individual support available through Extended Family, we also offer a website and an e-newsletter with Helpful Hints on navigating the prison experience and a Resource Database which has a search by county feature that makes it easy to find services in any community in the US.  Both the Helpful Hints and the Resources lists are constantly being updated to provide families with current information on how to deal with the daily stresses and feelings of anger, depression, and frustration, as well as the connections to help with meeting the daily physical needs of the family, like food, clothing, and shelter.

Extended Family is there for families providing support throughout the challenges caused by incarceration, from the initial separation to the reunification of the family.  Laure speaks to her personal mission and purpose for creating this community-based, non-profit organization, “The day my husband went to prison, I longed for someone to look me in the eye and say, ‘Laure, You can do this!  I’ll show you the way.’  Friend, I’m looking you in the eye and saying, ‘You can do this!  We at Extended Family will show you the way.’”

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