Physical Space Changes

“My 6-year-old daughter and I start each visit by choosing and reading a book together. Before visits were awkward and hard to start, and now it is a pleasant, relaxing way to get the visit going.”
– incarcerated parent

“What excites me the most is giving tokens to the kids. I love seeing the kid’s excitement and the parents being so appreciative of the book their child receives.”
– security staff, Dane County Jail

Children in justice-involved families may spend a lot of time in visiting rooms and waiting areas,  these spaces can be scary and stressful for both children and caregivers. The Literacy Link and community partners are working to enhance these spaces to create a more child-sensitive environment that promotes literacy and learning.

child-friendly visiting area
The visiting area in the Bayfield County jail gives children a comfortable space to read a book and choose one to take home.

Child-friendly visitation areas provide children a comfortable, welcoming space to sit and look at books during an otherwise stressful time. Children receive a free book to take home so they can build their own library.

A children's book vending machine
A book vending machine at the Dane County Public Safety Building offers an enganging way for children to choose a book for their home library.


  • Child-friendly environments create a more positive experience for children, their caregivers and parents, and jail staff.
  • When children feel comfortable visiting and engaging with their jailed parent it helps to maintain and strengthen the parent-child relationship.
  • When children can see and engage with their incarcerated parents it helps to reduce their sense of abandonment.
  • Provides literacy-rich activities and books for children to engage in while visiting their incarcerated parents, increasing their access to literacy-building experiences.