The international Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents – INCCIP launched its first international conference on May 20, 2017 in beautiful Rotorua New Zealand with a Powhiri (traditional Maori welcome). The Delegates attending are from 15 countries and 8 continents.

The First day of INCCIP conference was exceptional. Keynote speakers were Ta Pita Sharples Pillars Inc patron,Judge Andrew Becroft, the NZ Children’s Commissioner,Judge Carolyn Henwood a member of the New Zealand Parole Board and Verna McFelin the founder and CEO of PILLARS INC (the organisation hosting the conference).

They gave Great Speeches that provided a wonderful start to fuel the next three days. It has also been a heartwarming and joyous moment for the participants to meet up with old friends and connecting with new ones.

Judge Andrew Becroft in his remarks said, judges need to be “merchants of hope” for young people. He also talked about recognizing disadvantages faced by Children with incarcerated parents globally..

Verna McFelin said that 148,000 children in NZ have had a parent in prison and 10 times more likely to be in prison by age 21.

12 year-old Madison Strempek, a published author who wrote a book, “We All Make Mistakes” detailing her experience after her father was sent to prison in 2015 opened the Conference in a Key Note Speech.

Since writing her book, she wrote a letter and received a response from former President of the United States, Barack Obama, spoke at the White House Convening on Women in the Criminal Justice System, and introduced Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.

Madison said that she wants to help every child in the world that has a parent in prison and Being a keynote at this conference has given her the platform for share her story.

The conference is still going; it will close May 23, 2017

Madison speaking at the conference , here she reads Wise words from a letter to President Obama she wrote to him when she was 11