This program provides therapeutic and support services for children of incarcerated parents. The population served is adolescent children ages 12 to 15, who have parents or guardians who are currently or recently incarcerated parents.
The need for the program is found in research that shows that having an incarcerated parent serves as a social marker for troubled circumstances and undermines a child’s development. The program is interested in disrupting the intergenerational involvement in crime and incarceration that is often characteristic of children of incarcerated parents as evidenced by reports that indicate that children of incarcerated parents are five to six times more likely than their peers to be incarcerated at some point in their lives. By focusing on the middle school transitional time period the program will help address the point at which many high risk youth disengage in school.
There are three major components of the program: therapy, case management and mentoring. The therapeutic intervention to be used is Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), identified by SAMHSA and OJJDP as model programs. TFC-BT is designed to help children, youth, and their parents overcome the negative effects of traumatic life events including loss of a loved one as well as exposure to abuse and violence. It is conducted through 12 -16 sequential, one-on-one therapy sessions. The program’s focus is to enhance interpersonal trust and re-empowerment. It has been used with youth up to the age of 18, and used specifically for children and youth who have suffered the loss of a loved one, such as loss of a parent to incarceration. It involves individual counseling and where possible also involves parents/caregivers. Caregivers will be assisted to understand the therapeutic model, reinforce learning with their children, and also offer support to address their own issues related to parental incarceration. These improvements in psycho social functioning contribute to the ability of children of incarcerated parents to remain crime free and engaged in school.
Case management is provided to ensure comprehensive social support and connection to appropriate additional individualized services. Case management services are provided to the youth for one year. Youth are linked to other CCA programs including peer leadership development, violence prevention training, work experience and other pro-social after school and summer activities.
CCA’s mentoring program recruits, trains and matches mentors to children whose parents are incarcerated. A mentoring match is expected to last a year.