By Lt. Marlaina Dernoncourt, AA/PIO
California State Prison-Solano graduated its first group of 16 inmate participants from a program called Parenting Inside-Out.
The program is an evidence-based parent-training curriculum written specifically to meet the needs of the incarcerated parent. Program topics included emotion regulation, child development, communication, problem-solving, effective discipline techniques and preparing for the transition home.
Parenting Inside-Out was developed by the Oregon Department of Corrections working with Oregon Social Learning Center and Pathfinders of Oregon. The goal of the curriculum is to stop the multi-generational cycle of crime affecting many families.
A five-year $2.1 million study of the program looked at how 359 mothers and fathers had performed one year after leaving prison. Key findings of the research included a reduction in recidivism – down 59 percent for women and 27 percent for men, significantly better attitudes during incarceration, and an increase in the number of family visits, together with an increase in positive reinforcement practiced by fathers who participated in the program.
Dr. Mary Jo Bauen taught the inaugural cycle of Parenting Inside-Out at CSP-Solano. Parenting Inside-Out is sponsored by Community Works, a nonprofit in Oakland that provides education and support for incarcerated men, women, and youth. The class met twice weekly for 12 weeks, and was held on Levels II and III.
“This is a very strong curriculum”, said Dr. Bauen. “It provides a wide range of parenting tools and supports the dads at Solano to step up to the challenge of being a good father while incarcerated”.
The 16 Level III participants, who each received a diploma, demonstrated their commitment to change at the recent graduation. Associate Warden Gigi Matteson, Ruth Morgan program director of Community Works, Public Information Officer Lt. Marlaina Dernoncourt and Correctional Administrator Cherylann Mendonca were all in attendance to hear the inmates describe the most useful elements of the curriculum, and then share highlights from their individual parenting plans.
They also heard from a young speaker from Project What, a program for children of incarcerated parents also sponsored by Community Works.