About us

Purpose

To ensure that children whose mothers are incarcerated have a safe and nurturing environment where their basic needs, such as clothing, housing, transportation, food are met with kindness and respect, so that these children are afforded the same opportunities as other children who live in a loving stable environment. Operation Open Arms, Inc. will provide support and assistance to the mothers of the children upon their release from jail or prison. This assistance may include but is not limited to, referrals for job training, parenting classes, housing and transportation. Operation Open Arms, Inc. will work in partnership with Metro United Way, The Healing Place for Women, The Metro Re-Entry Task force, and their member agencies to provide these services to the mothers.

Founders

Cathy and Irv Bailey

Cathy and Irv Bailey

Operation Open Arms, Inc

Operation Open Arms, Inc is a private child placing agency, licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Our mission is to provide a loving, nurturing, home environment to children whose mothers are incarcerated. Operation Open Arms recruits, trains, licenses and provides assistance to foster families to make placement of these children successful. Financial support for this charity comes through fundraisers and other generous donations. Operation Open Arms, Inc. was licensed by the State of Kentucky on July 24, 2003 as a private child-placement agency. This license allows us to provide foster care and adoption services for children throughout Kentucky.

Our agency has also been recognized nationally for its mission of caring for children whose mothers are in prison. In March, 2003, Cathy Bailey, founder and president of Operation Open Arms received the “2003 Unsung Heroines” award for her dedication to the community. Cathy was nominated for this award by both Senator Mitch McConnell and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao on behalf of her work with Operation Open Arms.

Susan L. Reece, MSSW, LCSW

Executive Director

Email: susan@oparms.org

Susan comes to Operation Open Arms, Inc with a wealth of knowledge in the field of social services. Susan received her Masters In Social Work and has been an LCSW since 2005. Susan has become an expert in her field and has provided consulting, clinical supervision and seminars to several organizations. This includes being a PRN adjunctive professor at the Kent School of Social Work at University of Louisville. Susan has a passion for individuals who need support in our community and who have experienced childhood trauma, which is exhibited by having difficulty with emotional regulation. Due to this passion, she has served on local and national level committees as Chair and Co-Chair to provide solutions and to become a trauma resilient community. Susan is dedicated to doing what is right and follows her ethical guidelines diligently.

Laura E.W. Bomar

Office Manager / Director of Development

Email: laura@oparms.org

Laura joined Operation Open Arms, Inc. in 2018 as the Office Manager.
Laura brings years of experience into this role, most recently 12 years as Office Manager with Meiners Medical & Safety. Her extensive background in accounting and administration contribute toward the strong base of our organization. In November 2018, Laura accepted the opportunity to also become Director of Development. This role utilizes her skills in new and exciting ways toward building vital revenue streams, which allow us to achieve our mission and maximize community impact. Laura’s demonstrated leadership, strong work ethics and passion for the children fuel her every day.

Board of Directors

Joe Arnold
Cathy Bailey
Irving Bailey
Shari Hagan
Meredith Hernandez
Gale Lively
John McCarthy, III
Todd P’Pool
Susan Reece
Judge Paula Sherlock
Linda Yeager

Honorary Board Members:
Jean Frazier
Dawn Hoffman
Jennie Rees
Karen Sherry

Understanding Children with Mothers in Prison

Parental incarceration creates many challenges for children and families. These include, but are not limited to: financial difficulties, instability in relationships, school behavior, performance difficulties, low self-esteem, and feelings of shame.

Research indicates that incarceration of a mother at a child’s infancy can lend to insecure fragmented future attachments. In fact one estimate (Baunach, 1985) suggests that 70% of young children with incarcerated mothers experience both emotional and psychological difficulties.

Just How Many

A 2006 report in the American Journal of Public Health states that between 6% – 10% of women are pregnant at the time they are incarcerated. In 1998 alone 1,400 women gave birth while incarcerated. Often these mothers are allowed only a day of contact with their newborn before having to surrender their infant and return to prison. This practice lends to separation and future attachment difficulties for both the infant and mother. Operation Open Arms, Inc. is committed to fostering and aiding with the bonding between mother and child.

Facts and Stats

  • More than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison
  • Between 1995 and 2005, the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. has increased by 57%.
  • 75% of incarcerated women are mothers.
  • The average age of children with an incarcerated parent is 8 years old; 22% of the children are under the age of five.
  • Ten percent of incarcerated mothers have a child in a foster home or state care.
  • The average (first) stay in foster care for a child with an incarcerated mother is 3.9 years.
  • Children in foster care with an incarcerated mother are more likely to “age out” of the foster care system.
  • Reunification with their mother is 21% for children of incarcerated mothers versus * 40% for all other foster children
  • 6% – 10% of women that are incarcerated are pregnant

Become a Foster Parent

Operation Open Arms is always in need of families willing to open their homes with love to a child whose mother is incarcerated. You can make a difference whether it is long term or only for a brief few months. The investment into the life of a child is worthwhile.

Learn About Our Services

Operation Open Arms, Inc. is licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to place children in homes for foster care or adoption. We recruit, train and provide support for families we license. We also provide outside parenting classes for related agencies.

About Our Partners

We appreciate the support we receive from so many valuable sponsors and donors throughout the year. Their contributions are what make it possible for us to continue to serve children and families.

Operation: Open Arms Inc. Logo

Operation Open Arms
8918 Stone Green Way, Suite 100
Louisville, KY 40220
502-493-5007

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