UNH Study Validates Inmate Family Program Earmarked for Budget Cuts
(Laconia, NH) Data from a new study shows positive results from an inmate program that provides parenting education and family support. In making this announcement, New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner William L. Wrenn pointed out that, while the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget continues this program, the House Finance Committee identified key positions for elimination and its future remains unclear.
The Family Connections Center, in conjunction with Dr. Kerry Kazura from the University of NH Family Studies Department, has completed a study on the Parent-Child visitation program held at FCC. The results of this study indicate that fifty-five percent of the incarcerated parents with significant parenting behavioral challenges, made the greatest improvement from visit one to visit three. The visitation assessment measured a variety of parenting behaviors and suggests that both mothers and fathers improved in the behavior areas of confidence, autonomy, limit setting, expressiveness, responsiveness, clarity of language. Further, it observed that the behaviors of sadness and anxiety went down.
Since 1998 the Family Connections Center has worked to preserve and strengthen families affected by incarceration. A multitude of services are offered, from parenting education classes to the recording of books on tapes to send to their children, the Center offers semi-private visits between the incarcerated parent and their child(ren).
Of the 1,683 male and female inmates who have participated in the Family Connections Center, 228 incarcerated parents have had 1,979 program visits at the FCC. The visitation study consisted of 101 incarcerated mothers and fathers who provided consent to share their information. This visitation program is the only one of its kind in the United States.
Commissioner Wrenn said, “I would like to congratulate the Family Connections Center team for providing this worthwhile program and improving the lives of offenders and their families.”
FCC Program Administrator Kristina Toth said, “We’ve always felt that the parenting program and the related parent/child visits were vital to improving parental confidence and skills; now we have the evidence to back that up. Also, with the improvement of parenting skills and the parental relationship, we feel strongly we are helping to prevent an intergenerational cycle of incarceration. We’re truly thrilled to know the important work we’re doing here is making a difference.”
Commissioner Wrenn added, “I urge lawmakers to consider the positive impact of this program as they work through the difficult task of preparing a budget. Enabling offenders to develop strong family ties could have far-reaching effects toward lowering recidivism levels.”
The Family Connections Center is funded not only with general fund dollars but also with grant money.