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Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network logo.
Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network
Office of Family Assistance
Department of Health and Human Services

Uniting Incarcerated Parents and Their Families

This report describes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network workshop, Uniting Incarcerated Parents and their Families, held in Orlando, Florida, on May 21-22, 2002.

Prepared by:
Nicole Waldman,
Associate

Jeanette M. Hercik, Ph.D.,
Project Manager,
Caliber Associates

Prepared for:
Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network
Office of Family Assistance
Department of Health and Human Service
Submitted in accordance with
Contract number: 105-99-8401
July 2002

Contents

  1. Conference Overview
  2. Background
  3. Workshop Sessions
    1. Welcome and Introductions
    2. Perspectives on Incarcerated Parents
    3. Review of States’ Current Program Strengths and Challenges for Addressing Incarcerated Parents Needs
    4. Focusing on Outcomes: The Role of Faith-Based Programs in Connecting Incarcerated Parents and their Families and Reducing Recidivism
    5. Site Visit to the Kairos Horizon Program
    6. Working Lunch: Reflection on the Kairos Horizon Program: Thoughts from Program and Welfare Providers
    7. Where Do We Go from Here? Development of an Action Plan for Working with Incarcerated Parents
  4. Seminar Evaluations
    1. Seminar Evaluations
      1. Evaluation form Question: “Please rate the following on a scale of 1 to 4”
      2. Evaluation form Question: “Please rate the overall service of the facilitators and speakers on the following issues using a scale of 1 to 4 (1=poor, 2=satisfactory, 3=good, 4=excellent)
    2. Written Comments
      1. Participant Binders/Resource Materials
      2. Session Organization/Flow of Day
      3. Question and Answer Opportunities
      4. Overall Seminar
      5. Benefits Anticipated as a Result of the Seminar
      6. What Was Most Useful About This Seminar?
      7. How Could the Seminar Have Better Met Your Needs?
      8. Other Comments

Endnotes

Conference Overview

The Welfare Peer Technical Assistance (TA) Network is a Federally funded initiative through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Family Assistance. The objective of the Welfare Peer TA Network is to facilitate the sharing of information between and among States and to establish linkages between organizations serving the needs of welfare recipients. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF), with support from the Welfare Peer Technical Assistance Network, sponsored the Uniting Incarcerated Parents and their Families workshop on May 21-22, 2002, in Orlando, FL. Participants included representatives from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), corrections staff, and child care staff from the following States: Alabama, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. The purpose of this 2-day seminar was two fold: to provide participants with an opportunity to understand how TANF agencies and corrections staff can work together to better serve incarcerated parents and to showcase the Kairos Horizon’s faith-based program around parenting, anger management, conflict resolution, basic skills, and job readiness.

The Kairos Horizon program is a yearlong multi-faith-based program that promotes personal responsibility, family responsibility, and employability. Kairos Horizon is an outgrowth of Kairos Prison Ministry, established in 1976 and active in 250 maximum and medium security prisons in the United States and abroad. By May of 2002, more than 270 men will have completed the the year-long Kairos Horizon program. The purpose of the program is to build links between the faith community and correctional institutions in order to achieve personal and family responsibility and employability. To increase personal responsibility, Kairos offers a 32-week program on parenting, anger management, and conflict resolution. In order to encourage family responsibility, fathers in jail write two letters a week to their children or family members. The Kairos Horizon program also offers education and job readiness programs to men. Many of the men in the program use computers to learn a basic set of computer skills. Men who do not have a high school diploma are also enrolled in GED classes or basic education classes that count as a work assignment. Kairos also offers programs on job interviewing skills.

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Background

The number of parents in U.S. prisons is growing with the increasing use of incarceration as a criminal penalty. In 1999 the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 721,000 State and Federal prisoners were parents to almost 1.5 million children under the age of 18.(1) Since 1991, the number of minor children with a parent in State or Federal prison increased by over 500,000, from 936,500 to 1,498,000 in 1999.(2)

In looking at the characteristics of incarcerated parents, 93% of incarcerated parents are male and 89% of them are housed in State prisons. Approximately half of all parents in State prisons are African American, 29% are White and 19% are Hispanic. Almost half of all inmates have never been married. 70% of inmates do not have a highschool diploma. The majority of parents are in prison for violent offenses (44%) or drug offenses (24%). Many incarcerated parents also have substance abuse problems. A majority of parents in State prisons (85%) reported using drugs in the past and 58% reported using drugs a month before their arrest.(3)

While in prison, many parents do not have interaction with their children on a regular basis. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a majority of both fathers (57%) and mothers (54%) in State prison reported never having a personal visit with their children since entry into prison.(4) The distance between the prison and the family home can account for such high numbers. Prisons are often located in remote or rural areas which are not accessible by public transportation. More than 60% of parents reported being held over 100 miles from their previous place of residence.(5)

Research on children of incarcerated parents is quite limited. However, existing research has shown that children of incarcerated parents experience many negative effects in terms of emotional health and well being. Fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, low self-esteem, depression, and emotional withdrawal are some of the emotional and behavioral problems that children with incarcerated parents can have.(6)  These children may also act out inappropriately, become disruptive in the classroom, and perform poorly in their schoolwork.(7)  Another negative effect is that children with incarcerated parents are five times more likely to serve time in prison when they are adults in comparison to children whose parents are not incarcerated.(8)

Many State and local agencies as well as community and faith based agencies are developing programs to unite incarcerated parents and their children while parents are in prison. In 1997, the Child Welfare League of America surveyed child welfare agencies and twenty-eight States reported information on programs and services available to children with incarcerated parents. Most of these States arrange for visits between incarcerated parents and their children.(9)

Promoting responsible fatherhood has become a top priority for States. All fifty States have responsible fatherhood programs and many States are designing programs to enhance the parenting skills of incarcerated parents.(10)  States can use TANF funds for programs that assist incarcerated parents as long as the services provided meet the purposes of TANF. Two of these purposes include: ending the dependence on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. Other funding sources are available from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) include several new fatherhood initiatives to assist States with increasing the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives. President Bush’s Initiative on Mentoring Children of Prisoners would provide $25 million to fund a program for FY 02 to mentor and provide support services to children while their parents are imprisoned. These competitive grants will be available to governments and faith-based community organizations.(11)  Another initiative, the Helping Fathers in the Criminal Justice System initiative, would support State and local projects that offer services to non-custodial parents who are incarcerated or unemployed in order to increase employment and re-enter their communities.(12)

An important part of responsible fatherhood is providing financial support. The 1996 Federal welfare law requires States to have stricter child support enforcement programs. States are allowed to impose penalties such as revoking drivers and professional licenses, denying passports, expanding wage garnishment, and seizing assets of delinquent parents.(13)  Non-custodial parents are required by law to pay child support while they are in prison, despite a reduction in wages. Some States allow reductions in monthly payments if an incarcerated parent files a written request.(14)

Many positive outcomes can result from increasing a father’s emotional and financial involvement in his children’s lives while he is incarcerated. One such benefit is reducing recidivism. Fathers who have a connection to their children maybe less likely to re-commit a crime. Children will also benefit from having relationships with their fathers. Research conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Fatherhood Initiative shows:

  • Father involvement is important even for very young children. Good fathering during infancy and early childhood contributes to the development of emotional security, curiosity, and math and verbal skills.
  • Higher levels of involvement by fathers in activities with their children, such as eating meals together, going on outings, and helping with homework are associated with fewer behavioral problems, higher levels of sociability, and higher levels of school performance among children and adolescents.(15)

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Workshop Sessions

1. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

  • Linda Dilworth, Director of Economic Self Sufficiency, Florida Department of Children and Family Services
  • Mickey Griffin, Kairos Horizon Program
  • John Horejsi, ACF/Office of Family Assistance
  • Bob Sluss, ACF/West-Central Hub, Region VI

Linda Dilworth, Director of Economic Self Sufficiency for Florida’s Department of Children and Family Services, welcomed participants to the State of Florida. Florida, like other States, has had their share of economic woes since September 11th. However, the State has achieved successes in transitioning welfare recipients to work. Looking to the next stage of welfare reform, incarcerated parents pose a challenge. She stressed the importance of State strategizing to help incarcerated parents so as they leave prisons they are better able to reunite successfully with their families, their communities and be employable.

Mickey Griffin, Director of Programs, Kairos Horizon Program, thanked participants for the opportunity to showcase the Kairos Horizon program. The first Kairos Horizon program was established at the Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach, Florida in collaboration with the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood. Ike Griffin serves as Executive Director of the Kairos Horizon program.

John Horejsi, the Federal Project Officer for the Welfare Peer Technical Assistance, thanked the State of Florida and Mickey and Ike Griffin of the Kairos Horizon Program for hosting the conference. Mr. Horejsi also thanked the Region IV and Region VI Representatives, Greg Campbell and Bob Sluss. This workshop reaffirms the commitment to non-custodial parents and the 1.5 million children with incarcerated parents. Mr. Horejsi also talked about the origins of the Welfare Peer TA Network. The Welfare Peer TA Network was started because States requested “State Initiated TA” States wanted access to technical assistance and information about initiatives and programs occurring outside the region and wanted to learn from each other. The Welfare Peer TA Network has hosted over 100 events around such topics as urban issues, one-stops, faith-based initiatives, hard-to-serve, high performance bonuses, and IDAs. The Welfare Peer TA website highlights relevant policy research, innovative programs, related links and upcoming events, and has interactive question and answer sessions.

Bob Sluss welcomed the conference participants on behalf of Regions IV and VI. There have been a lot of successes over the past 5 years since welfare reform, incuding a 50% decrease

in the welfare rolls. The current challenge is how to help the hardest-to-serve. States are being asked to develop new and innovative strategies to re-unite incarcerated parents with their families to further decrease the rolls. The Kairos program is an example of an innovative program that is making great headway. In the upcoming year, the Kairos program will work with 30 prisons in Texas.

2. PERSPECTIVES ON INCARCERATED PARENTS

  • Joseph Stillman, Consultant

Joseph Stillman, a consultant, began this session by familiarizing participants with the scale of the issues around incarceration. In 2001, approximately 2 million inmates were in State or Federal prisons. 98% of these inmates were men. A large percentage of these inmates are African American or Latino. The rate of incarceration has expanded over the past 30 years. From 1920 to 1973 the rate of incarceration remained stable at 110 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. However, from 1973 to 2001 the rate increased four fold to a rate of 452 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

Mr. Stillman provided participants with the number of incarcerated individuals in each of their States:

  • In Florida, 69, 596 were incarcerated
  • In Lousiana, 34,066 were incarcerated
  • In Ohio, 46,842 were incarcerated
  • In Oklahoma, 22,393 were incarcerated
  • In Texas, 163, 190 were incarcerated.

In terms of prisoner re-entry, almost 600,000 inmates are released or return home per year. This equals 1,600 per day. In 2002, the number of releases is expected to increase by 5% to 630,000.

Mr. Stillman presented information on incarcerated parents and their children. 50% of incarcerated men are parents while almost 70% of incarcerated females are parents. At the end of 1999, approximately 1.5 million children had one or both parents in prison. Since 1991, the number of children with parents increased from 500,000 to 1.5 million.

In response to the large number of incarcerated parents, many State, community and faith-based agencies, and foundations are designing prisoner re-entry programs. Mr. Stillman talked about common themes that successful initiatives and programs have had:

  • Organizational mission and objective of strengthening incarcerated parents
  • Support services including health care, housing, and drug treatment
  • Agreements with child protective serves to negotiate arrearages and payment schedules
  • Delivery of participants to Child Protective Services
  • Focus on personal responsibility within program.

In addition to these initiatives, it is important that collaboration occur between Department of Corrections, TANF offices, and Offices of Child Support and Enforcement. Each of these offices has specific goals related to incarcerated parents. The Department of Corrections has a goal of reducing recidivism. However, this division is often under pressure to impose strict sentences. TANF agencies are concerned with moving welfare recipients off the rolls. The Office of Child Support and Enforcement’s top priority is to collect child support payments. Each of these offices have different goals and priorities and therefore collaboration can be difficult.

3. REVIEW OF STATES’ CURRENT PROGRAM STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES FOR ADDRESSING INCARCERATED PARENTS NEEDS

  • Joseph Stillman, Consultant
  • Nicole Waldman, Caliber Associates

During this session Mr. Stillman facilitated a discussion where participants divided into groups by State and identified their systems assets and challenges for serving incarcerated parents. Emphasis was placed on how TANF and corrections staff do or don’t collaborate in serving families.

Florida:

Participants identified the following strengths:

  • Current programs for incarcerated parents are a source of hope and provide incentives against recidivism
  • Captive audience: The State is willing to be a partner in fatherhood initiatives as seen through Florida’s fatherhood initiative
  • Children and family activities and supports such as family days at the prison and the letter writing program
  • Opportunities for literacy through reading programs and GED classes.

Participants identified the following challenges:

  • Lack of understanding and knowledge of Florida agencies including TANF offices and corrections
  • Government bureaucracy including rules and funding challenges that pose barriers to collaboration and new initiatives.

Louisiana

Participants identified the following strengths:

  • Faith-based and community initiatives that provide housing, social services, and job services to ex-offenders
  • An education system that is helping prisoners and ex-offenders obtain jobs, get a GED, and providing literacy and vocational training.

Participants identified the following challenges:

  • Mindset of corrections: public safety comes first. This way of thinking limits participation in collaborations with TANF offices
  • Funding which is a barrier to collaboration and new initiatives
  • Lack of staff to carry out new initiatives to serve prisoners
  • Collaboration, entities holding onto their own territory.

Ohio

Participants identified the following strengths:

  • Strong leadership within the State
  • Video conferencing between prisoners and their families which helps establish and /or continue relationships while prisoners are incarcerated
  • Collaborative work between corrections, TANF, and Child Protective Services
  • Statewide parenting program
  • Family orientation at reception centers inside prisons.
  • Horizons program in place.

Participants identified the following challenges:

  • Funding: Ohio has recently had to close a prison and downsize staff
  • Tracking: there is no tracking of who the children of incarcerated parents are. The State is unable to go into a school and find out how many children have incarcerated parents.

Oklahoma

Participants identified the following strengths:

  • Task force-Different agencies are working together
  • Interfaith council
  • Timing is right for new initiatives and programs to better serve prisoners in the State
  • Have Kairos program and other faith-based groups programs in place.

Participants identified the following challenges:

  • The increasing rate of incarceration of women. Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of incarcerated women in the country
  • Decreases in funding which prevent the creation of new programs and initiatives for incarcerated parents
  • Staffing shortages which poses a barrier to the creation of new programs for incarcerated parents
  • Federal and State laws that present barriers to coordination among TANF, corrections, and child protective services.

Texas:

  • Lots of programs in place for incarcerated parents. These programs include a school-wide program, curriculum for families, a reading program, and family days
  • Texas Workforce Commission’s Project Rio, which is a one-stop center in prisons that connects prisoners to the workforce.

Participants identified the following challenges:

  • The number of people incarcerated in Texas
  • Funding which presents barriers to creating programs to serve incarcerated parents
  • Many initiatives and programs in Texas are locally driven
  • Coordination among agencies- Federal laws often present barriers to coordination among such agencies as TANF, corrections, and child protective services.

4. FOCUSING ON OUTCOMES: THE ROLE OF FAITH-BASED PROGRAMS IN CONNECTING INCARCERATED PARENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND REDUCING RECIDIVISM

  • Matthew Munyon, Fatherhood Commission
  • Dr. James Key, Oklahoma State University
  • Mickey Griffin, Kairos Horizon Program

Florida’s Commission on Responsible Fatherhood

Matthew Munyon gave a presentation entitled, “Florida Focuses on Fathers.” During the first part of the presentation Mr. Munyon asked participants questions about fatherhood and then presented information on the answers.

Q: How many of you believe father absence is one of our most significant problems?

A: In 1992, a Gallup Poll found that 70% of Americans feel that father absence is the most significant problem. In 1996, the same Poll found that 79% of Americans feel that father absence is the most significant problem.

Q: What are the three types of father absence?

A:

  1. Absent from the home and does not participate in their children’s lives
  2. Involuntarily obstructed from participating in their children’s lives
  3. Present in the home but disengaged from their children’s lives

Mr. Munyon presented research on the percentages of children growing up in households without fathers.

Percentages of Children Growing Up in Households Without Fathers.
  1960 2000
% of Children living with a father 90% 70%
% of Children from mother-only families growing up in households without fathers 8% 23%
% of White Children from mother-only families growing up without fathers 5% 15%
% of African-American children from mother-only families 18% 48%

Q: What are the main pathways to father absence?

A:

  1. Out-of-wedlock births
  2. Divorce

In 1960, there were 200,000 children born out-of-wedlock. This number increased to 1,200, 000 in 1999. In 1960, there were 400,000 divorces. In 2001, this number increased to 1,100,000.

Q: In 1974, divorce became the number one reason for marriages ending. What was the number one reason prior to 1974?

A: Death

Mr. Munyon talked about the impact of father absence on education:

  • Over 40% of fathers have never read to their children
  • Less than half of (40.9%) know their children’s teacher
  • Nearly a third (32.4%) have never attended a child’s class event or school meeting
  • 77% of fathers have never had lunch with their children at school.

Q: What was Florida’s response to father absence?

A: Established the Commission on Responsible Fatherhood in 1996

Florida’s Commission on Responsible Fatherhood is comprised of 25 commissioners. Among these Commissioners, 7 are Governor appointed, 10 are organization-appointed, 5 are legislative and judicial-appointed, and 3 are commission-appointed. Organization appointed members include:

  • American Association of Retired Persons
  • Center for Florida’s Children
  • Family First
  • Family Law Section of the Florida Bar
  • Florida Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work
  • Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions
  • Florida Chamber of Commerce
  • Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Order
  • National Congress for Fathers and Children.

The Commission’s vision is to have Florida’s children grow up with two parents who are actively involved in their lives and are mutually responsible for loving, nurturing, supporting, and protecting them. The Commission has three goals which include raising awareness, identifying barriers, and identifying strategies. These goals are listed below along with the strategies and program ideas to achieve them.

Goal 1: Raising Awareness

In order to raise awareness, the commission disseminates information through presentations, their web site, billboards, and conferences.

Goal 2: Identifying Barriers

The Commission’s second goal is identifying barriers to responsible fatherhood. Examples of barriers include:

  • The lack of balance between work and family. Fathers often spend too much time at work and as a result less time is given to their children
  • A father’s lack of knowledge of duties, responsibilities, and parenting skills
  • The lack of father-specific and father-inclusive resources to assist fathers with parenting skills
  • Legal barriers that often prevent fathers from having custody of their children or only allow for limited time for visits
  • Societal attitudes
  • Lack of economic opportunity
  • Divorce
  • Fathers often lack support from families, government, community, and faith-based organizations
  • Loss of connections with extended family
  • Growing up without a positive role model.

Goal 3: Identifying Strategies

The third goal of the Commission is to identify strategies for responsible fatherhood. These strategies include:

  • Peer support for fathers
  • A take your dad to school month program
  • Raising public awareness about responsible fatherhood issues
  • Advocating for the elimination of barriers to responsible parenting
  • Offering free child care to children ages 3-12
  • The involvement of State leaders such as Governor Jeb Bush
  • Community and faith-based initiatives to assist fathers with parenting skills.

Linking Incarcerated Parents and their Families-Outcome Measures

During this session, Dr. Key provided participants with background information on the scope of the issue of incarcerated parents and their children, talked about outcomes and measuring a program’s success, and presented information on effective program strategies. For the first part of the session, Dr. Key provided participants with research on incarcerated parents and their families:

  • In 1999, more than 1.5 million children had an incarcerated parent
  • In 1999, more than half of State inmates were parents to minors
  • The female prisoner population has more than doubled since 1990
  • More than 50% of prisoners report that they have never had their children visit them
  • Two percent of all children and 7% of African-American children have incarcerated parents
  • Children of incarcerated parents exhibit low self-esteem, depression, emotional withdrawal from friends and family, and inappropriate or destructive behavior at home and in school
  • The crucial parent’s role in the child’s development highlights the need to keep parents in touch during incarceration and reunite upon release.

Obstacles to connecting incarcerated parents and their families include:

  • Inadequate information on visiting procedures
  • Difficult visiting arrangements
  • Humiliating visiting procedures
  • Great distance to institution
  • Concerns about child’s reaction.

Dr. Key talked about three specific outcomes and how to measure them. The first outcome is a prisoner’s changed heart. This outcome can be measured by feelings, anecdotal records, observations, and case studies. Another outcome is when prisoner’s change their mindset or thinking. This outcome can be measured by tests, scales, and surveys. A final outcome is when prisoners start to change their actions or acts. Observations, results, and mapping are ways to measure this outcome.

For the next part of the session, Dr. Key provided participants with information on three innovative programs on uniting incarcerated parents and their families. He emphasized effective program strategies.

Long Distance Dads

Long Distance Dads is a character-based education and support program that was started in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at the State Correctional Institution at Albion. The program assists incarcerated men in developing skills to become more involved and supportive parents. The Long Distance Dads program is used in at least one Federal, State, or community correctional facility in 26 States.(16)

Program strategies include helping inmates with the following:

  • Recognizing and describing family values
  • Demonstrating increased knowledge of parenting/family values
  • Identifying realistic strategies for fulfilling responsiblities as a father while confined and after release
  • Identifing and describing the effects their behavior and incarceration have on their families
  • Developing a viable family integration plan
  • Identifying and using positive skills for dealing with issues of loss, shame, and guilt
  • Clearly communicating to children the negative effects of incarceration.

Prison Fellowship Inner Change

The Inner Change Freedom Initiative (IFI) is a faith-based prison program. The mission of the Initiative is to create and maintain a prison environment that fosters respect for God’s law and rights of others’, and to encourage the spiritual and moral regeneration of prisoners. The program is currently used in three States: Texas, Iowa, and Kansas.

The program consists of four phases:

  1. Phase One: Focuses on the prisoner’s internal transformational process and seeks to build spiritual and moral filters. A heavy emphasis on education, work and support helps create a new foundation for productive growth
  2. Phase Two: Tests the inmate’s value system in real-life settings and prepares him for life after prison. Inmates may spend much of the day in off-site prison work programs or involved in the Re-Entry portion of the curriculum
  3. Phase Three: Ex-offenders are transferred to a Work Release of Halfway House facility to continue their transition process
  4. Phase Four: Allows the inmate to practice a transformed life-style upon release from custody in aftercare. Designed to assist the ex-offender in assimilating into his family, community, and workplace by his continued association with a Christian mentor, staff, and church family.(17)

IFI measures the success of its program at three levels. The program assesses the extent to which the program changes participants’ behavior. This is done by comparing IFI inmates with a match control group of inmates who are similar in every way except they are not in the IFI program. IFI evaluates changes in all aspects of their behavior in prison and after they have been released into the community. This includes in-prison infractions, rearrest rates, reconviction rates, as well as positive action evidenced both in prison and in the community. The second level is an evaluation of the extent to which the values, beliefs, and attitudes of IFI prisoners have changed or are changing as a result of participation with the program. A fundamental shift of value and worldview is viewed as an essential step of long-term behavioral change. Fundamental shifts in values and beliefs are the primary objective of Prison Fellowship while behavioral change is a secondary Prison Fellowship objective and a primary objective for the State. Third, the evaluation seeks to identify specific programmatic elements that contribute to observable outcomes.(18)

Kairos-Horizon Program

Mickey Griffin, Director of Programs for the Kairos Horizon Program, presented information on the structure of Kairos and the program design in order to introduce participants to the program and set the stage for the site visit. Kairos Horizon is an outgrowth of Kairos Prison Ministry, established in 1976 and active in 250 maximum and medium security prisons in the United States and abroad. Kairos Horizon has operated three year-long, faith-based communities in Florida, Ohio, and Arizona prisons. The program promotes personal responsibility, family responsibility, and employability.

The purpose of the program is to build links between the faith community and the correctional institutions in order to achieve personal and family responsibility and employability. To increase personal responsibility, Kairos offers a 32-week program on parenting, anger management, and conflict resolution. Volunteers from churches serve as community mentors for fathers in prison.

In order to encourage family responsibility, fathers in jail write two letters a week to their children or family members. Fathers also participate in the family reading ties program which is a 6-week journaling series based on fatherhood issues. At the end of the series, the fathers select a book from a group of award-winning children’s literature authors and record the book or excerpts on tape. The book and tape are usually sent to the children of these fathers.

The Kairos Horizon program also offers education and job readiness programs to men. Many of the men in the program use computers to learn a basic set of computer skills. Men who do not have a high school diploma are also enrolled in GED classes or basic education classes that count as a work assignment. Kairos also offers programs on job interviewing skills.

The Kairos Horizon program has had success with working with fathers on reconnecting with their families. By the end of May of 2002, more than 270 men will have completed the year-long Kairos Horizon program. In addition, the stories of family reunification are inspiring. Fathers and mothers have come to visit their sons for the first time in 12 years. Children have become reunited with their fathers after many years of estrangement. Grandparents connecting with grandchildren that they had not met before.

The Kairos Horizon program has made great progress in reducing recidivism. Studies conducted by the Florida Department of Corrections showed that participants in Kairos Horizon program’s follow-up activities have a 57% decline in recidivism in comparison to similar offenders.

Ms. Griffin talked about the tools, processes, and elements of best practices of the Kairos Horizon program. Collaboration among Florida’s Fatherhood Initiative, a ministry, and the Florida Department of Corrections has created a stable and reliable base for the implementation and continuation of programs around incarcerated parents and family relations. Another best practice of the Kairos Horizon program is holistic programming. Programs are designed to support the mental, spiritual, and emotional needs of participants in an integrated way in contrast to solely focusing on one aspect. The program also addresses educational and employability needs. The credibility of community volunteers in the Kairos Horizon program is another best practice. Many of the programs are facilitated by volunteers in small group settings of six or eight men. Since community volunteers are not paid or part of the system they are viewed very favorably by the inmates. The Kairos Horizon’s program’s priority of family relations has contributed to the program’s success. The program focuses on personal responsibility and strengthening family ties which permits families to welcome the inmate back. Personal changes can be seen through weekly letters sent to family members. Separate programs are provided to wives and female loved ones and for the children to strengthen the father’s presence in the family. As a result, family ties have been restored, even among families who have not been in contact for over ten years.

5.SITE VISIT TO THE KAIROS HORIZON PROGRAM

On the second day of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to visit the Kairos Horizon site. At the beginning of the site visit, participants were divided into small groups so that they could talk with the prisoners in the Kairos program. Although conversations differed by group, prisoners talked about why they were in prison, how the Kairos program has helped them, and their family life. Some of the ways that the Kairos Horizon has helped them include: improved parenting skills, respect, and positive changes. After the group sessions, the participants toured the dorms. Prisoners in the Kairos program are housed in dorms that are separate from the rest of the prisoners. Inside the dorms, these prisoners are part of a family pod. These prisoners also have access to computers and a library. The participants also had the opportunity to talk to the staff of the Kairos program during the site visit.

6. WORKING LUNCH: REFLECTIONS ON THE KAIROS HORIZON PROGRAM: THOUGHTS FROM PROGRAM AND WELFARE PROVIDERS

  • Mickey Griffin, Kairos Horizon Program

During this interactive session, participants had the opportunity to share their reactions to the Kairos Horizon site visit.

The following comments were made about the site visit:

  • Before going to the prison, there was a perception that the prisoners were different. However, after talking to them we learned that some had grown up in two-parent households with a stable family life.
  • It was evident that the Kairos program has helped the prisoners connect with their families through the letter-writing program. This form of consistent communication has helped families maintain relationships.
  • It was interesting to see the difference between the regular dorms and the dorms in which the Kairos Horizon participants were housed.
  • We saw the important role that the Department of Corrections staff plays in the Kairos program. There is a real connection between the prisoners in the program and the staff from the Department of Corrections.

7. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? DEVELOPMENT OF AN ACTION PLAN FOR WORKING WITH INCARCERATED PARENTS

  • Janet Griffith, Caliber Associates
  • Nicole Waldman, Caliber Associates
  • Moderator: John Horejsi, ACF/Office of Family Assistance

During this session participants divided into groups by State and identified practical next steps for working with incarcerated parents.

Oklahoma

  • Based on what was seen from the site visit, the State representatives would like to work on the implementation of the Horizon program.
  • Establishment of a task force to address fatherhood initiatives. This task force would consist of members from different agencies such as corrections, TANF, and child protection in order to foster collaboration.

Ohio

  • Improving communications and relationships between TANF and corrections staff in order to serve prisoners better. The importance of collaboration was stressed throughout the workshop sessions.
  • Improving tracking systems of prisoners so that the State can identify which children in schools have parents in prison. This tracking system will allow the State to better serve prisoners and their families.

Louisiana

  • Improving communications with the warden and corrections staff. Improved communication can lead to more collaboration between TANF and the Department of Corrections.
  • The need for more initiatives for incarcerated parents. Representatives from the State would like to see the implementation of more programs to serve incarcerated parents and their families.

Texas

  • The need for more family programming for incarcerated parents. Initiatives and programs should be created so that incarcerated parents can connect with their families.
  • There is a need for more emphasis to be placed on fatherhood programs.

Florida

  • The need for more training facilitators in corrections
  • Improved collaboration between the Department of Corrections and TANF. The State representatives would like to form a workgroup for the two agencies.

[Go to Contents]

Seminar Evaluations

This section summarizes evaluation forms and written comments about the seminar.

1. SEMINAR EVALUATIONS

At the conclusion of the seminar, attendees were asked to complete an evaluation form.

1.1 Evaluation form Question: “Please rate the following on a scale of 1 to 4”

Exhibit IV-I summarizes the respondents’ rating of the participant binders/resource materials, session organization/flow of day, question and answer opportunities, and overall seminar. The following scale was used: 1 = poor,  2 = satisfactory,  3 = good,  4 = excellent.

Exhibit IV-1*
Question 1 2 3 4
 n  %  n  %  n  %  n  %
A. Participant Binders/Resource Materials 0 0% 0 0% 5 33.33% 10 66.67%
B. Session Organization/Flow of Day 0 0% 1 6.67% 4 26.67% 10 66.67%
C. Question and Answer Opportunities** 0 0% 0 0% 2 14.29% 12 85.71%
D. Overall Seminar*** 0 0% 0 0% 5 33.33% 10 66.67%
* Total number of respondents was 15
** Total number of respondents for this question was 14
*** Total number of respondents for this question was 14

1.2 Evaluation form Question: “Please rate the overall service of the facilitators and speakers on the following issues using a scale of 1 to 4 (1=poor, 2=satisfactory, 3=good, 4=excellent)

Exhibit IV-II summarizes the respondents’ rating of the facilitators and speakers knowledge about the content of the seminar, background and experience related to the content of the seminar, and overall rating of the facilitators of the speakers. The following scale was used: 1 = poor, 2 = satisfactory, 3 = good, 4 = excellent.

Exhibit IV-II*
Question 1 2 3 4
 n  %  n  %  n  %  n  %
A. Knowledge about the content of the seminar 0 0% 0 0% 1 6.67% 14 93.33%
B. Background and experience related to the content of the seminar 0 0% 0 0% 2 13.33% 13 86.67%
C. Overall rating of the facilitators and speakers 0 0% 0 0% 3 20% 12 80%
* Total number of respondents was 15

2. WRITTEN COMMENTS

Participants were also given the opportunity to provide open-ended comments. A summary of their responses is as follows:

2.1 Participant Binders/Resource Materials

  • Looks like a good resource
  • Information is current reflecting latest research, studies, and best practices
  • Lots of good materials
  • Very resourceful information
  • Very comprehensive.

2.2 Session Organization/Flow of Day

  • Well organized
  • Well organized-Valuable and significant contributions of information from various resource persons
  • Very good-interesting information
  • Sessions were well organized. Topics were good and informative
  • An interesting mix of topics and presentation formats
  • Topics were appropriate
  • First day ran long, but gave interesting information.

2.3 Question and Answer Opportunities

  • Never enough time
  • Excellent-offered a variety of opportunities to ask questions and expand knowledge
  • Valuable opportunity to learn about grassroots efforts and formulate new plans to replicate best practices
  • Very good opportunities to interact
  • Discussions lended to informative questions; Answers which result in a wealth of information about what other States are doing
  • Questions were welcomed; Plenty of opportunity to ask questions
  • Good, except at the end of the State break-out session
  • Good interaction
  • Plenty of time.

2.4 Overall Seminar

  • Enjoyable. Hotel could use some improvements
  • What a remarkable experience-helpful, real experiences with very real, open and strong people. Networking opportunities-very valuable
  • Overall a good conference
  • Excellent roundtable experience
  • Seminar was excellent/informative. Site visit added greatly to the seminar
  • Excellent, site visit was great
  • Great speakers and topics.

2.5 Benefits Anticipated as a Result of the Seminar

  • With outcomes, program could be sold to the administration
  • Networking with other providers from other States. Using the manual for resources, awareness of family issues. Ideas about what we can do
  • Louisiana has the potential to have this type of program
  • Better understanding of client (incarcerated parents) needs and opportunities to serve and develop family relationships
  • Texas will be initiating the Kairos program in coordination with TANF funding
  • Networking-knowing who is doing what and connecting with them
  • A greater understanding of the needs of the incarcerated as it related to reuniting them and their families and reintegrating them into society
  • Share this information with HHS and Department of corrections in Alabama
  • Better communication-introduction to new resources
  • Collaboration of agencies and community
  • Speakers were extremely knowledgeable. Also the members of the group-very good experiences and insights on State-level initiatives as well as challenges
  • Definitely food for thought for me as a CASA Court appointed special advocate and Kairos volunteer
  • Leadership to advocate for the program
  • I am aware of the need and the value of programs such as these. Also the awareness for the need for volunteers and community awareness to support these programs. I will definitely share these experiences.

2.6 What Was Most Useful About This Seminar?

  • Networking
  • Importance of involving fathers with their children not only for financial support but the emotional connection
  • The site visit was a moving experience. The activities selected for this seminar were balanced, varied, and provided for meaningful reflection.
  • Contacts and knowledge for partners
  • Meeting others from other locations
  • Seeing the big picture and networking
  • The site visit and how it all came together for us. The time with the inmates was powerful
  • Networking and the prison visit
  • Establishing relationships and partnerships to make this program a reality
  • Site visit to the Kairos program
  • Getting the inmates reunited with their families. Establishing a program that appears to work very well
  • Learning about faith-based work in offender/ex-offender programs
  • Speaker for Commission on Fatherhood with stats
  • Changing my mind about who these people (inmates) are and that there is hope to change their lives
  • Bringing people in from other States so we could compare systems.

2.7 How Could the Seminar Have Better Met Your Needs?

  • More related to the TANF program-because it seems to be a corrections program
  • More relevant statistics and performance data
  • I would have been curious to see the outcomes of more State participation and the additional information that could have come from that experience
  • More information ahead of time
  • I would have liked more time with the inmates and more of an open sharing discussion on each of the group members network of collaborative partners and resources
  • Stressed more on the workings of TANF
  • We could have used a little more room during the sessions.

2.8 Other Comments

  • Wonderful visit to the Kairos Horizon site, welcomed by participants of the program
  • Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to continuing my communication with the group and replicate the best practices. I want to learn more about what the State of Florida has done to provide more information about the success of the this program and to replicate and focus on Tomoka’s success
  • Thanks for a good conference
  • Excellent experience for growth, understanding, and networking
  • Great conference. We need more agencies to get real about their goals
  • Speakers of the seminar were excellent/very knowledgeable. It was well organized and ran smoothly.

[Go to Contents]

Endnotes

1.  Mumola, Christopher. “Incarcerated Parents and their Children.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. August 2000, page 1.

2.  Mumola, Christopher. “Incarcerated Parents and their Children.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. August 2000, page 1.

3.  Travis, M. Waul, and A. Solomon. “The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Low-Income Communities.” Forthcoming. Washington, DC: Urban Institute

4.  Mumola, Christopher. “Incarcerated Parents and their Children.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. August 2000, page 1.

5.  Mumola, Christopher. “Incarcerated Parents and their Children.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. August 2000, page 1.

6.  The Osborne Association (1993) “How Can I Help? Working with Children of Incarcerated Parents.” In Serving Special Children (vol. 1) New York: The Osborne Association cited in Seymour, Cynthia. “Children with Parents in Prison: Child Welfare Policy, Program and Practice Issues.” Child Welfare League of America, accessed online: www.cwla.org/programs/incarcerated/so98journalintro.htm

7.  Gabel, S. (1992) “Children of Incarcerated and Criminal Parents: Adjustment, Behavior, and Prognosis. Bullentin of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law, 20, 33-45 cited in Seymour, Cynthia. “Children with Parents in Prison: Child Welfare Policy, Program and Practice Issues.” Child Welfare League of America, accessed online: www.cwla.org/programs/incarcerated/so98journalintro.htm

8.  Petersilia, Joan. “When Prisoners Return to the Community: Political, Economic, and Social Consequences.” Sentencing and Corrections. November 2000. Page 1.

9.  Seymour, Cynthia. “Children with Parents in Prison: Child Welfare Policy, Program and Practice Issues.” Child Welfare League of America, accessed online: www.cwla.org/programs/incarcerated/so98journalintro.htm

10.  Brenner, Eric. “Fathers in Prison: A Review of the Data.” National Center on Fathers and Families Brief. 1998

11.  “Promoting Responsible Fatherhood” HHS Fact Sheet, April 26, 2002. Accessed online at: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/factsheets/fact20020426.htm

12.  Ibid.

13.  Title III cited in “Getting to Work: How TANF Can Support Ex-Offender Parents in the Transition to Self-Sufficiency.” Legal Action Center. April 2001.

14.  Pearson, Jessica and Hardaway, Chris. “Designing Programs for Incarcerated and Paroled Obligers.” Welfare Information Network. August 2000. Accessed online: www.welfareinfo.org/expandedcasestudy.htm

15.  “HHS Fatherhood Initiative” HHS Fact Sheet June 21, 1999. Accessed online at: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/factsheets/fact990621.htm

16.  National Fatherhood Initiative: “Long Distance Dads: Incarcerated Fathers Program.” Accessed online at: http://www.fatherhood.org/lddads.htm

17.  “About-IFI Program” The InnerChange Freedom Initiative Accessed online at: http://www.ifiprison.org/aboutprogram.shtml

18.  “About IFI-FAQ’s” The Inner Change Freedom Initiative. Accessed online at:  
http://www.ifiprison.org/contentindex.asp?ID=135

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