Incarcerated Women and Mothers

Florida Family Network is recognized as one of the leading agencies in the state of Florida that uses "Best Practices That Work" to support incarcerated parents and their children.

 

Research by the University of Florida, College of Law, Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations (CSRRR) determined that there are three elements that are essential for effective programs working with incarcerated parents and their children:
 

  • Address the needs of building a healthy parent-child relationship,

  • Seek to educate incarcerated parents about their rights and responsibilities, and

  • Assist parents with their re-entry by identifying community supports and resources.
     

A report based on the CSRRR research, Children of Incarceration: Collateral Victims of Crime, A Resource Guide, identified seven programs in Florida that use these essential elements for effective interventions and outcomes. For a complete version of this report, click here or click photo:

Best Practices A Look at What Works
Over the past 20 years there have been increasing efforts to implement programs and policies to support children with incarcerated parents. The specifics of these programs differ based on the needs of the particular population.
For example, a program that focuses on preparing incarcerated parents for a return to society may emphasize the importance of re-building the parent-child relationship and fostering a healthy home environment. In contrast, a program designed for newly incarcerated parents might focus on developing effective visitation procedures and enhancing the parent-caregiver relationship. These program interventions are intended to support incarcerated parents and their children. Research has identified three elements that are essential for an effective program. First, it addresses the need to develop a healthy parent-child relationship. Second, the program seeks to educate incarcerated parents about their rights and responsibilities. Third, the program assists parents with reentry by identifying community support and resources. Below is a brief description of each of the three elements of an effective intervention program.

The greatest crime of a mother’s incarceration is that her children are the ones who are really paying the cost of her crime. THEY ARE… “THE HIDDEN VICTIMS”! We need all sectors of government, policy makers, non-governmental, faith based, community-based, communities, neighbors, and families, to recognize this fact and its impact on our children, their future… our future. We need everyone to move it forward in positive and deliberate action.

 

The children’s age does not matter, when it comes to the daily deficits of their mother’s absence and the impact of her being incarcerated. A mother is always “a mother” no matter how old the children/adults are. Florida Family Network, Inc (FFN) provided parenting educational services, Vocational Training and management of supportive services for incarcerated mothers to share time and reconnect with their love ones during visitation.

 

Between 1999-2013, FFN secured federal contracts with the U. S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Correctional Institutional (FCI) a minimum custody federal correctional facility in Tallahassee, Florida. FFN staff served 35,679 inmates, their children and families in the children’s visiting room. Research has shown that inmates who maintain family connections during their incarceration have a higher likelihood of successfully reentering the community and do not return to the system. This is certainly true for the population served at the FCI-Tallahassee.

Program Services

Between 1999-2013, FFN secured federal contracts with the U. S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Correctional Institutional (FCI) a minimum custody federal correctional facility in Tallahassee, Florida. FFN staff served 35,679 inmates, their children and families in the children’s visiting room. Research has shown that inmates who maintain family connections during their incarceration have a higher likelihood of successfully reentering the community and do not return to the system. This is certainly true for the population served at the FCI-Tallahassee.

 

Parenting Course

Over a span of fifteen years, FFN staff taught 35 parenting classes to 1,035 incarcerated mothers whose children totaled 2,805. This racial and ethnic population consisted of 35% -White, 30% -Hispanic, 23% - African-Americans, 5% - Native Americans, 5% - Multiracial and 2% -Other (French, Italian, German, & other).

 

The parenting classes met twice a week for 3 hours per class, 3 1/2 -4 months, totally 84 hours per class hours. All class instructions and curriculum materials were bi-lingual (English/Spanish). Classes were interactive, small/large groups, and flexible to the sensitivity to how the women learn. FFN designed the parenting curriculum called, “Parenting from the Inside-to Empower & Support the Children on the Outside by Florida Family Network” to address the multiple roles these women face, (inside prison and outside of the home) to become the role model parent that every child need.

 

 

Results

The inmates who participated in the programs reported they felt better about who they are as a person, woman, mother, daughter and accepted where they are as well as its impact on their children. They showed a greater sense of self-respect and more confidence as a parent, resulting in a clearer path of communication with their children, more respect from the children towards their mother allowing the mother to glide into her role as mother. Relationships between mothers and children, mother sand caregivers, mothers and their husbands, or fathers) improved. Better relationships close the gap of distance between prison and home. Most importantly, the mothers felt that they could impact their children’s growth and development from afar. As a result of their change in behaviors, the way they see themselves and others, and understanding the reaction of life’s curve balls and its impact, evolves into lower recidivism rates because they become motivated and determined to be better parents. This meant that the federal and state level prisons would not need to reserve a space for them later down the road.

WOMEN IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

Click on graph to enlarge

 

Vocational Programming – Call Center Technology Instructional Services

From 2010-2013, FFN’s provided Vocational Training (VT)- Call Center techniques and Technology (Professional and Personal Development) classes. A certificate program designed specifically for this population to learn the basic fundamental skills, knowledge of the use of the tools to provide quality customer service across the wide spectrum of the variety of business’ disciplines. These basic tools were the foundation for all service related employment geared towards the women creating their own business. Crafted strategies and techniques were designed to strengthen the personal and professional self to deliver not only self-confidence and quality services, but to be successful in the workplace setting, to have the ability to effectively communicate and to effectively get along with management, staff and customers alike.

 

Results

Coupled with the development of a curriculum that was specifically designed to fit the needs of this population, and the investment from the Bureau Of Prisons in employment opportunities such as vocational and apprenticeship work programs has reduced recidivism and increased the likelihood of employment for inmates after release.

 

Parenting

Over the course of 15 years of teaching thirty -five parenting classes, that extended over 3 ½ months, we have seen the following. Outcomes to improve parenting knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, just to name a few:

  • 100% gained knowledge and applied it to the engagement with their children while they were incarcerated. Those who reunited with their families, found that the techniques they learned in parenting class were effective and they were comfortable with their increased knowledge of effective parenting skills

  • Understanding and applying the effects of parenting styles on child outcomes.

  • Knowing their personality as well as their child(ren) personality help them to understand the individual needs of each of their children.

  • Increased ability to engage in positive involvement with their child(ren).

  • Increased ability to effectively problem solve without the drama and increased emotions.

  • Expressing sensitivity and empathy, responding positively, and showing respect and encouragement to both the children and caretakers;

  • Improved relationships with children and caretakers

  • Improved abilities to communicate effectively

  • Understanding the application of discipline & punishment

  • Their children are doing better in schools, their social events to do the ability and the willingness of the inmate parent to be engaged with their children

 

Call Center VT

Over the course of three years teaching this 15 hour a week course, specifically, inmates who participate in Federal Prison Industries (FPI)/Vocational programs are 24% less likely to recidivate for as long as 12 years following release as compared to similarly situated inmates who did not participate. Additionally, they are 14%, According to research conducted by the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) Office of Research and Evaluation. Through the Post‐Release Employment Project (PREP), designed to evaluate the impact of FPI and vocational/apprenticeship training, data was collected for up to12 years on more than 7,000 federal inmates. The study involved sophisticated research design and statistical analysis to eliminate the problems that often plague correctional research including selection bias. The results demonstrate convincingly that FPI and vocational/apprenticeship programs have a positive effect on post‐release employment and recidivism, increasing the likelihood that inmates will successfully reintegrate into the community following release from federal prison.

 

Other Related FFN Curricula

FFN has produced curricula for other special populations, i.e. Parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, (TANF) & recovering from substance abuse and mental health illnesses, Teen Parenting, Pre-natal, post-natal care, and maternal child health. All of FFN’s materials are cultural sensitive materials designed for the specific population. We incorporate character development, good health practices, integrity, pride, self-confidence, and positive self-talk that create a reframing. These elements of teaching and learning seem to have been tools that have advanced the student into a paradigm shift that focuses on improving their lives.

© 2014 Florida Family Network