The New Miss America's Cause: Children of the Incarcerated

The newly crowned Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler aka Ms. Wisconsin, has a special cause: Children of the Incarcerated. At one time, she was one. Check out her organization, Circles of Support.

As to her post-Miss America plans, her website says in addition to her mentoring work, she will pursue a degree in Family and Child Advocacy Law. She also owns a music studio and teaches voice and piano. For her talent competition, she performed (sang) Luigi Arditi's classical aria, Il Bacio. [More...]

From her website:

  • Nationwide, more than two million children have a parent who is incarcerated in state or federal prison or local jail.
  • Children with imprisoned parents are almost six times more likely than their peers to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.
  • About one in 40 children have an incarcerated father.
  • More than ten million children have parents who were at one time imprisoned.
  • About one in 359 children have an incarcerated mother.
  • There is no one agency responsible for their welfare.
  • Anger, isolation, sadness, fear, anxiety and guilt are commonly experienced emotions for these children.
  • School failure, delinquency and intergenerational incarceration are common outcomes.

Also check out Children of the Incarcerated and my prior posts here, here, here and here.

Check out this Bill of Rights for Children of the Incarcerated, first published in 2003.:

  • 1. I have the right to be kept safe and informed at the time of my parent’s arrest.
  • 2. I have the right to be heard when decisions are made about me.
  • 3. I have the right to be considered when decisions are made about my parent.
  • 4. I have the right to be well cared for in my parent’s absence.
  • 5. I have the right to speak with, see and touch my parent.
  • 6. I have the right to support as I face my parent’s incarceration.
  • 7. I have the right not to be judged, blamed or labeled because my parent is incarcerated.
  • 8. I have the right to a lifelong relationship with my parent.

Congratulations to the new Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler, Ms. Wisconsin.

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  • Display: Sort:
    That's fantastic. What a messenger (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by observed on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 02:06:50 AM EST
    and message!

    It's a wonderful cause (none / 0) (#2)
    by itscookin on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 09:48:04 AM EST
    I'm sure her ability to parade down the runway in a bathing suit that doesn't ride up is a real resume builder for someone who wants to make a difference for such a worthy project.

    maybe it was (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 01:14:28 PM EST
    the $50,000 scholarship she wanted as well as attention to her cause. Miss America is the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, they provided  more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance to 12,000 young women who competed in the state and local competitions.

    good for her (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by sj on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 03:58:03 PM EST
    And anyone who dismisses the scholarship aspect of the Miss America pageant should spend some time reading the horror stories at OccupyStudentDebt.

    It's good to see someone public advocate for the families of the incarcerated.  I realize her focus is for the children of the incarcerated so I didn't see (so far in what I've read) another issue that families have to deal with:  the outrageous phone charges for the collect calls that inmates are permitted to make.  


    Great, if You are Pretty (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 09:48:39 AM EST
    ...is available to the over 12,000 young women who compete in the state and local competitions...

    I'd like to think we strive for better than beauty pageants.  It's hard to knock an organization that helps a lot of people, but it would be nice if they helped people who are not beautiful women.

    And sj... if only the women in your example was deemed pretty enough to gain one of these scholarships, her nightmare would be someone else's.

    I can't be the only only to believe that judging women on their looks and bodies is not kosher, no matter the prize.  I think it's shameful to our society to put such value and reward in beauty.


    agree, scott (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by The Addams Family on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 12:19:18 PM EST
    too often, though, instead of making the point that you just made, people simply ridicule the women who take this route to funding their education

    i think sj's comment was intended as a corrective to that unfortunately common tendency


    Thin gruel. (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 06:56:06 PM EST
    There are many, MANY, organizations that help support the college aspirations of their particular affinity group.

    You have heard of the United Negro College Fund, Hispanic College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, American Indian College fund, Knights of Columbus, etc.?

    The Meritus College Fund doesn't help people who weren't socio-economically disadvantaged SF public HS students, is that bad?

    Heck, even my kids' youth track team offers a scholarship. Shocking and shameful that it doesn't help people who don't run track.

    The rest of what you write is mostly rubbish as well. Every society extant in innumerable ways rewards "beauty" (and height, weight, complexion, personality, work ethic, and/or every other facet of humankind you can think of).

    You think your brocrush Aaron Rodgers would have that (admittedly pretty funny) series of State Farm commercials if he looked like Quasimodo?


    to be fair, (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jan 17, 2012 at 01:18:36 AM EST
    they are also judged by their supposed talent and their records of contribution to society is taken into account. That being said, yes, it would be nice if they didn't also have to be physically attractive.

    I thought it was interesting that one of the contestants this year had recently lost 100 pounds and wanted everyone to know that if she could drop the unhealthy excess weight, others could too.

    As I said elsewhere in comments, I can't imagine being motivated to participate in these pageants, and in a lot of cases, the talent of the contestants was hard to discern, but to each his own.


    I gained acceptance of this (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Towanda on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 01:54:40 PM EST
    years ago, when there was even less scholarship funding for women than there is now, but the disparity between the genders still exists.  I realized that there is not really a lot of difference between men -- athletes -- using their bodies to get scholarships and women doing so.

    Now, thanks to Title IX, there are more athletic scholarships for women athletes, but they're still using their bodies to get to college -- and the disparity continues, despite Title IX.  (Actually, I read that the disparity is getting worse in athletic scholarships for women, with the attacks on Title IX.)

    I wouldn't want my daughter to get to college -- or, in this case, law school for a Miss America whose family lost their home to foreclosure and lost a lot else when he went to prison, from what I find in the records -- this way.  Then again, when my daughter graduates in a few months to hope to find a job as a teacher for ever-lower pay, she will have $40,000 in loans.  And that's in addition to her having several scholarships.

    As my daughter looks darn good in a bathing suit, is quite talented, and has volunteered for a lot of organizations that work for world peace, I probably ought to have encouraged her to go for the Miss America scholarship, too.


    What a pleasant surprise! (none / 0) (#3)
    by MKS on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 10:52:46 AM EST

    I think this wonderful (none / 0) (#7)
    by loveed on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 05:10:42 PM EST
    Our children have so many obstacle to overcome, in there formative years.
     I have never thought about this issue. I will now.

    Always nice to see someone go into law (none / 0) (#8)
    by BobTinKY on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 07:47:22 AM EST
    for reasons other than money and fame.

    when I was in high school (none / 0) (#12)
    by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 08:45:09 PM EST
    A friend's dad was accused of a white-collar crime. His arrest or indictment (don't remember which) was a big story in the Des Moines Register. Later the guy was either acquitted or charges were dropped on some technicality--again, can't remember which. Of course, the newspaper story about him being cleared was buried somewhere in the metro section. Even though he was never incarcerated, the whole experience was very traumatic for my friend and his siblings. I can only imagine how much worse it is for kids whose parents are incarcerated.

    I appreciate that this woman is going to use her new position to draw attention to this cause. I am frankly surprised that she was chosen as the winner, given her support for this cause.

    Better this young lady than some other... (none / 0) (#14)
    by PoliticallySpeaking on Tue Jan 17, 2012 at 10:01:05 AM EST
    Better this young lady than some idiot/homophobe/hypocrite like Carrie Prejean.

    Sure, the setting may not be perfect (she'd have never made it if she were not beautiful), but you don't get to that level without have a decent head on your shoulders.  Kudos to her for choosing something that may mean a lot to many kids.