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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Somerset County incarcerated parenting programming has legs – Daily American Online

The father was released from Somerset County Jail in December 2020. He spent some time in a homeless shelter.
His children were taken away while he was incarcerated because they were abandoned by their mother.
Now he is working a full-time job and renting his own apartment. He is currently working on reuniting with his children.
He is one of the success stories that Michelle Lasure, manager of The Family Center in Salisbury, shared with the Somerset County Prison Board Tuesday. The family center program is countywide.
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“Really, we have heard such wonderful things of the InsideOut Dad program at the jail and I wasn’t sure if everyone here was aware of the program itself and some of the nice stories we are hearing about it,” said Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, who invited Lasure to come as as guest to Tuesday’s prison board meeting to discuss the program.
For the past three years, the family center has conducted a parenting alcohol and drug program that involved home visits. Another program, InsideOut Dads, was offered to formerly incarcerated fathers, along with the Incredible Years program offered to formerly incarcerated mothers. The programs’ goals was to help the participants to learn how to improve behavior, connect with their families and break the cycles that led them to become part of the criminal justice system’s recidivism statistics.
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About a year ago, the center saw an increase in the families that it served, Lasure said. “They were increasing in high risk factors.”
The center serves 105 families, and when 47 of those families were showing two or more high risk factors for child abuse and neglect — “we saw a need for expansion,” she said.
Some of the center’s fathers and mothers started to become incarcerated, creating a break in home services done in the home for children. Once incarcerated, the family center trained home visitors could not get into the homes, she said.
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Lasure reached out to Jessica Eller, reentry coordinator in the Somerset County Jail, to share how the center’s incarcerated parenting programming program worked and how it would be meaningful to be available to incarcerated parents before they reenter the community and connect with their families.
Eller and Lasure worked together to provide the service in the jail and have seen success.
The 47 families that the center had dropped to 27 families in less than a year, Lasure said.
“Having that continuum of care, just having that extra service for the families that we serve resulted in success,” she said.
“It has been doing very well,” she said.
In May, a mother who participated in the center’s Incredible Years group while incarcerated in the county jail, asked to continue with the group upon her release, according to a report by one of the center’s trained home visitors.
She followed through with her request and is an active participant, Lasure told the board.
“Our group is made up of other mothers who are facing similar issues with custody, CYS (aka Children & Youth Services) and incarceration and we have been seeing them becoming more bonded and comfortable with sharing and supporting each other throughout this group,” Lasure read.
Another incarcerated mother decided after connecting with other participants in the center’s program to voluntarily admit herself into a detoxification and rehabilitation program to become healthy and recover so she could stay united with her children and be a good influence for them, Lasure said.
“Most inmates share their stories, hope and expectations. We heard their pain and tears. We don’t take these sessions lightly,” she told the board.

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