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Steps to Home The Importance of Family Relationships in Successful Reentry One Chapter of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation’s Study of the Impact.

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Presentation on theme: "Steps to Home The Importance of Family Relationships in Successful Reentry One Chapter of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation’s Study of the Impact."— Presentation transcript:

1 Steps to Home The Importance of Family Relationships in Successful Reentry One Chapter of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation’s Study of the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children

2 What is the role of family in corrections and reentry? A. Families are a nuisance and a liability. They enable and are part of the problem. B. Families are the primary source of stability, support, and motivation. Without them success is unlikely. C. All of the above.

3 Families Currently Contribute More than $2 million a year to the Jail’s Welfare Fund Court clothes, and when they are lost, additional clothes Care for 80%-90% of the thousands of children whose parents are in the Jail each year Write, send photos, visit, & bring children Provide a home to go to, and powerful motivation to stay away from drugs and crime

4 Research Demonstrates Positive Impact of Family Relationships La Bodega- Case management and family support brought illegal drug use down from 80% to 42%, recidivism down 50% Urban Institute – Going Home Studies- Identified family support as the most important factor keeping offenders from returning to prison. Fathers with strong ties to children showed lower substance use. Inmate Social Ties and Transition to Society- In Florida prisons family visits – especially in month before release - reduce and delay recidivism

5 Power of Relationships with Children May Explain.... Women are twice as likely to go to jail after their child’s placement (Allegheny County Department of Human Services) Maternal criminal activity spikes and continues to rise after child placement (ACDHS) 85% of arrests and 90% of maternal incarcerations occurred after child placement (Vera Inst. of Justice)

6 The Study Questions Round One: What happens to children in Allegheny County when their parents are arrested and incarcerated in the County Jail? Round Two: If attachments between children and their incarcerated parents impact the mental health and success of both, what is happening in the Jail and reentry to support healthy relationships?

7 Is There Hope? Many residents –Want to learn to be in healthy relationships –Want mediator/coach/counselor as guide Some parents, children, and partners of residents never give up

8 Learning Relationship Skills in Jail

9 PROBLEM Often described as discouraging, rude, mean, inconsistent Correctional officers ARE the Jail Relationships with Correctional Officers From Residents and Visitors: Control access to programs, jobs, supplies – show favoritism Betray private information overheard at desk (nurses, caseworkers) Some identified as helpful, consistent, and fair

10 Relationships with Correctional Officers From Correctional Officers: PROBLEM One officer assigned to a pod responding to the needs of 100 people leads to great stress Undergo “hazing” when new No opportunity to learn positive practices from peers Little control over schedule or assignment Visitors often rude and accusatory Frequent double shifts lead to exhausted staff Not consulted about programs, not informed

11 Relationships with Correctional Officers From All: SOLUTION Consistent assignment On-going training and support Training, screening, selection of officers to match assignment

12 Relationships with Management Getting form letters from Warden FAMILIES PROBLEM No access to administration FAMILIES 3-11 shift not consistent with 7-3 shift FAMILIES, RESIDENTS, JAIL STAFF Warden reads and responds Publicized point person for families Orientation, training, supervision of shift commanders to assure consistency SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION

13 Relationships with Other Residents From Residents: PROBLEM Women: mind each other’s business – always on pod with nothing to do Men: most disconnected, except specialized pods Women: some positive residents initiate support groups – end when they leave

14 Relationships with Other Residents From All: SOLUTION More well run specialized pods – Application, screening for entrance – Consistent rules & staff – Competent staff – Terminate/punish individual – not group – for infraction – Classes and activities all the time – Whole pod engages in activities together – Managed jointly by program and security Resident-led support groups: “morning meeting”

15 Relationships with Case Workers From Residents: PROBLEM Lack of time, skills, and training Can’t help with real problems No private conversations Women: Unresponsive, overwhelmed From Family Members: Not a liaison with family members Most are not sources of information Most are unavailable From Caseworkers: Role does not include family relationships or connection to family Believe family work is important and wanted

16 Relationships with Case Workers From Residents: SOLUTION Real counseling with privacy for serious issues Social Worker on each pod Volunteers to do paperwork, calls (Chaplain’s volunteers “witness” this way)

17 Relationships with Family & Children Families & children lack information, fear unknowns PROBLEM No model of parent role Cut off, can’t address issues Provide accurate information proactively – include residents and children Parental mentoring Programs including mediation, family counseling SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION Very long stays, delays, no information. Especially hard on children Speed court, accurate information to families, easy access to attorneys, parent and child “learn each other” program more and better contact visits

18 Relationships with Family & Children Phones difficult, expensive, often disconnected PROBLEM Residents don’t know phone number Visits unpleasant, families different, treated same, correctional officers mistreated, no accommodation for young children Free or coin phone in intake, residents pay: programs or work to earn phone cards, reduce cost, guarantee length, allow cell calls Current phone books in intake and pods Train, select special COs – provide support, increase contact visits, schedule & child friendly rules for families with young children SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION

19 Relationships with Family & Children First time visitors bewildered, scolded PROBLEM Visits: long waits, might not get in Visiting areas filthy, unsafe Rules, schedules: post clearly in lobby and pods, send info to persons on visit lists Phone reservations for visits; pre-screening Regular staff inspection (thru child’s eyes), residents clean SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION Letters expensive, slow Foster letter writing program, free envelopes for all

20 Relationships with Family & Children Letters between institutions or within Jail prohibited PROBLEM Pictures: mail rules unclear; ripped during shake downs; child needs also Contact is only time resident feels human. Bad call or visit can “wreck” resident/ child/significant other for a week Program for communication between parents and their children in institutions Clear rules about # of pics to send, inform family members, take pics of parents/children during visits so current & together Family contact as part of program, with pre-, during-, and after-contact coaching for all SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION

21 Experiences Birthing a Child From Women Residents: SOLUTION Family present to coach at delivery If CO/Sheriff in delivery – female only Proactive response to post-partum depression Bonding program, visits for mothers/fathers and newborns

22 Special Populations Need Special Attention People who are indigent Children Pregnant women and new mothers Families in conflict and children by several mothers/fathers More than one family member incarcerated, especially parent/child People who are illiterate Custodial fathers (especially young)

23 Learning Relationship Skills in Alternative Housing Facilities

24 Relationships at Renewal From Residents who are Mothers and Fathers: Court now prohibits home visits PROBLEM No family involvement Visits at Renewal unpleasant Revise Court rule Family Reentry Program Visits at Renewal & home – in Family Program SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION Employers can’t reach Renewal staff Build employer-employee relationship skills

25 PROBLEM Family/natural support not encouraged Officers/staff have limited role Link to probation sometimes not made Resident may be released in the dark, with no money, transportation, appropriate clothing, or place to go Relationships at Release

26 From All: SOLUTION Home Plan implementation begins Home Plan part of release order Accompany resident to new “home” Family/Natural Support present Planned Release from “Discharge Center” (CO) Requirements for relationships to family, children Linked to probation, education, employment, housing, treatment, family support

27 Relationships During Reintegration From All: Don’t know what to expect at home (resident, family, children) PROBLEM Don’t know how to parent, don’t know children Home plan with agreed upon expectations, rules, roles re family and children. Requirements re contact with significant others and children, on-going updating with mentor/counselor Parental mentor, counselor begin in Jail, continue at home SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION

28 Relationships During Reintegration From All: Don’t know if will be safe PROBLEM Need more preparation for independent living Home plan=safety plan for all (including family) Begin reintegration with step-down program before going to street or home SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION Parent “competes” with more interesting home of caregiver Link to family centers, other family play areas before leave Jail, monitor Child welfare & other systems don’t give parent chance or assistance Coordinate child welfare, child support, probation, reentry — give parent a chance

29 Learning Relationship Skills During Probation

30 Relationships During Probation From Current & Former Residents, POs, Family: No requirement of family involvement, no training in skills of engaging family PROBLEM PO linked to family or family workers and monitor requirements of home plan, easier if connect with family (PO) (La Bodega model – family + caseworker + PO supervise addicts) Recognize PO - Probationer - Family relationship as key to reentry success, better supervision if family on board (PO) SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION No accommodation if probationer/family moves or personality clash

31 Relationships During Probation From Current & Former Residents, POs, Family: Some POs work closely with family & natural supports, others cannot manage the time for family contact PROBLEM POs able to manage the multiple inputs of probationers & family/children assist peers – supervisory and training positions Define probation as reentry/home plan support and monitoring SOLUTION PROBLEM & SOLUTION Belief – only “the criminal side of things”

32 © 2010 Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation. All rights reserved. Permission to use is granted with credit to Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation.


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