White House to Honor Nonprofit Chief Dee Ann Newell

Dee Ann Newell of Little Rock, founder and director of Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, will be honored by the White House on Wednesday for her 25 years of work with children of imprisoned parents.

The White House Office of Public Engagement is recognizing Newell as a Champion of Change. The office was created in 2011 to recognize community leaders working to strengthen democracy and increase participation in government.

Arkansas Voices is a nonprofit that seeks to help the children of incarcerated parents, their caregivers and the incarcerated parents themselves.

At the ceremony on Wednesday, the Sesame Street nonprofit will also introduce a new line of products for children of the incarcerated.

"The forcible separation of a parent and child by arrest and incarceration is a singular, traumatic event for the children, both those who know their parent and for those who know of their parent," Newell said in a news release. 

"Their grief is palpable and painful, but the separation is only one of the multiple risk factors impacting these children including poverty, living in communities of violence, and racism, alongside the stigma and shame. This White House event will see the first-ever provision of federal policies to soften the impact of parental loss. It is our hope that we will see further efforts, including diverting parents into productive programs without parent-child separation."