It is critical for the children, parents and alternate caregivers to have a place to go that can help them surmount their challenges and barriers in a non-judgmental environment. The need for service delivery and preventive interventions for the children with a focus on kinship care is essential for the children, their families, and our community. Failure to do so is simply nurturing the next generation of incarcerated parents!
Our empirically validated Strengthening Incarcerated Families (SIF) program derived from a two year research project in collaboration with the U of M Ann Arbor School of Public Health. We have shown through research that our program works (Miller et al. 2013 “Strengthening Incarcerated Families, Evaluating a pilot program for children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers, Family Relations http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3864819/); Miller et al 2014 “Parenting While Incarcerated: Tailoring the Strengthening Families program for use with jailed mothers” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657561/)
SIF is designed to develop a comprehensive support system for children of incarcerated parents (CIP’s), their caregivers outside of the jail, and their parents inside of the jail. These services include in jail setting, parent child visitation, parenting classes and Mom 2 Mom Mentoring.
Through our Strengthening Incarcerated Family Resource Center our Social Worker helps to connect the families with both, concrete and social support (i.e. State of Mich.- MI Bridges program - (food stamps, Medicaid, emergency and cash assistance, and childcare) healthcare coverage through the Genesee Healthcare Plan, and other community resources that are available to help the incarcerated families respond to the Flint water crisis and other needs.
Outside of the jail, through our Reading And Counting to Success (RACS) program we provide the children academic support (homework assistance, tutoring in reading, math, and computer technology, positive guidance, life skills training, transportation, and a healthy, nutritional dinner meal. Each child enrolled into this program will have a unique set of needs that goes beyond simply providing them with literacy and math instruction. Although it is difficult to identify the efforts needed beyond the structure of our program, we are willing to go the extra mile to make a positive impact in their lives. We do so because we believe the work that Motherly Intercession does today will have both short and long term positive impact on these children’s lives tomorrow and the quality of life in our community.
At the time of enrollment, many of our students are reading below grade level. To further complicate the situation, in 2013 our Protective Factor Survey (http://friendsnrc.org/protective-factors-survey) data indicated less than 30% of the children’s parents/caregivers felt they had the academic skill sets needed to provide the children the academic support they needed. Clearly these children receive less academic support in learning in the home.
Several of our students are struggling with many layers of grief, emotional anxiety, and other challenges which impede their ability to RECEIVE, COMPREHEND, RETAIN and RESPOND to the academic support they receive. Helping a child to navigate those challenges is a slow, timely process, yet necessary for success.
Research says one in five of these children have a diagnosable emotional or behavioral disorder, up to one in ten may suffer from a serious emotional disturbance, and as high as 70% of them do not receive the mental health services they need because they are not easily identified.
The children are taught “what goes on in the home stays in the home”. The code of secrecy in the family unit leaves them with no source of emotional support to help them cope with their fears and anxiety. In those cases we refer them to the Mott Children’s Health Center for emotional behavioral assessments and treatment if needed.