News & Events


IHM Assists Some of the Most Vulnerable

by Sister Catherine (Katie) Sitja y Balbastro, IHM

For the past five years, my ministry has been at Hour Children.

Hour Children ( is a Queens, NY-based not-for-profit organization that provides compassionate, comprehensive support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children. Named to acknowledge the key hours that impact the life of a child with an incarcerated mother – the hour of her arrest, the hour of their visit, and the hour of their reunification - our mission is to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives.

Hour Children provides direct service to women in two New York State prisons and one New York City jail. In the facilities, we provide transportation, visiting programs, parenting education, and case management. We also do direct outreach to the children, who live across the state of New York with family members or caregivers.

When women are released from prison or jail, they and their children are welcomed into our extended community, where we provide transitional and permanent supportive housing, mental health support, child care, mentoring, and a workforce re-entry program. All of our efforts on behalf of the families we serve are grounded in two core beliefs: love makes the difference; and change takes time.

A generous grant received from Catholic Extension is providing critical support to families with a mother held at New York City’s jail – Rikers Island Correctional Facility. In the past year, Hour Children has launched a family services program at Rikers, which currently benefits 150 families from across New York’s five boroughs. Our program helps mothers and children remain connected during the time they are separated, and provides whatever
support is needed to their children and caregivers. This includes referrals; mental health support; and access to Hour Children’s community programs.

All our families have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. For most of them, this has been in the form of economic instability and food insecurity. Although we operate a food pantry at our base in Queens that all families are welcome to visit, some need extra help. Many of our caregivers are older: many are the grandparents of children served by our program. They live on fixed incomes that are stretched while they raise a child or in some cases, multiple children. Thanks to the Catholic Extension grant, Sister Katie purchased 20 Butterball Gift Checks of $50 each. These checks are being distributed to families in need to purchase food to help them through difficult times. For our families, they have been an answer to prayer. For Sister Katie, it has been a privilege to meet them and extend this help.

L-R Sister Katie, IHM, Rosa, Malaysia, and Sister Tesa, CSJ