Local woman works to break the cycle of incarceration in children of parents in prison

One woman is hoping to fill the gap of children with incarcerated parents through programs she created (KSNV)

Nationally, the number of kids who have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their childhood hovers around 5.1 million, according to an Annie E Casey Foundation report.

Children with incarcerated parents are significantly less likely to live in neighborhoods that are supportive of families.

One woman is hoping to fill that gap through programs she created.

Useless, bullied, lonely -- those are just some of the words teens are using to describe themselves.

Tina Burse sees something else -- potential and hope.

"We're trying to educate and inspire our kids to do more and be more and the sky's the limit," Burse said.

Burse started "It's Ok 2 B Different," a non-profit targeting children with a parent or both parents in prison to help break the cycle of incarceration.

"It takes less than five minutes to get into trouble, but it takes a lifetime to get out," Burse said.

As a former corrections officer for the State of Nevada, she saw the young men and women coming in and out of the institutions.

At home, she found herself desperate to find a way to prevent her son from the same.

"I was a single mother of five boys and at the time, my second-oldest son was getting into a lot of trouble hanging out with the wrong crowd," Burse said.

When she looked for resources, she was told she had to wait until after her son was incarcerated for him to received any help.

"I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't allow another parent or child to hear those words again," Burse said.

Since 2011, she's helped more than 100 children through "It's Ok 2 B Different."

"A lot of kids think of it as a badge of honor, well, my uncle been in there, my aunt has been in there, or my mom has been in there, so they think it's okay to be there. It's not okay," said Burse.

Tiffany Neathery brought her three kids to the program to deter them away from prison from following the same path as some of their family members.

"My fiance and their grandpa is too at the same time, so it's helped a lot trying to get everything back on track," Neathery said.

Neathery says she's seen positive changes in them recently.

"I'm hoping this is, I'm pretty sure this is going to help them go down the right path," Neathery said.

It's a path Burse hopes to guide.

"This is why I fight so hard to this for the kids and the parents because these children right here are our future, so if I don't step in or someone else doesn't step in to help save our children, then who will," Burse said.

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