The CARES peer support women’s group seeks to create a grassroots advocacy program to deal with the stigmatization and prejudice our clients face, and to improve their access to resources. Currently we are organizing education sessions to sensitize the community on the plight of families with a family member or loved one who is incarcerated in order to reduce stigma. 

 Objectives of Sessions:

  • To bring a voice to the silent victims of incarceration.

  • To sensitize the community to the ostracism, financial and emotional hardships experienced by families of offenders.

  • To educate other agencies as to the unique needs of our clients.

  • To create a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere of dialogue and reach out to other members in the community who may have been affected by the criminal justice system.


This advocacy will be accomplished through educational presentations within Chicago-area synagogues and social service agencies to debunk myths and give voice to these individual women and children, who are the collateral damage and silent victims of incarceration.

This project will sensitize the Chicagoland Jewish Community and social service organizations to better understand:

  1. The impact of incarceration on families and their needs during these life-altering experiences 
  2. The individual women and children, who come from all streams of Judaism and a range of social economic status. 

Awareness is the critical first step. American society is waking up to the toll of incarceration and  recidivism. The Jewish community parallels these trends. These women have been viewed as “enabling”, “complicit”, or “failures as wives and mothers”.

In fact, they have been valiantly and often powerlessly struggling for years to help their family members with mental health and addiction issues, struggling within a criminal justice system which does not recognize families as stakeholders.

Our program provides the first difficult impetus for change. About 30 years ago, the stereotypes about mental illness and domestic abuse within the Jewish community were challenged. Today, we must initiate a new dialogue within our Jewish community and the criminal justice system.