CAMBRIDGE — The Dorchester County Health Department has been awarded a three-year $675,145 Federal grant from the US Office of Justice Programs to support the “Connecting For Success” program. This funding falls under the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention’s Second Chance Act, to address the needs of incarcerated parents with minor children.
Research suggests that addressing challenges of incarcerated parents while maintaining family ties can have positive impacts for both the individual and their children, including reduced recidivism, less intergenerational criminal justice system involvement, and healthy child development.
Connecting For Success (CFS) offers a three-pronged approach including child and caregiver focused services, case management, and parent groups. Licensed clinicians provide mental health evaluation and treatment including individual, family and group therapy.
They also support caregivers and help to connect them to other resources. Case Managers work with incarcerated parents to assess needs and abilities and develop re-entry plans. When those individuals return to the community, staff can continue to work with them toward pre-determined goals.
This planning and support is critical to keeping them from re-offending and returning to jail. Groups include an evidence-based parenting program designed specifically for incarcerated parents, and another group that teaches adults about the neurobiology of trauma, how it impacts decision-making, and how to make changes that lead to better choices.
CFS services are provided in partnership with Dorchester County Public Schools and the Dorchester County Department of Corrections. While the Health Department has provided services to students in a variety of programs for years, this grant required expansion of the collaboration between the Health Department and the Department of Corrections.
“Without the vision and leadership of Joseph Hughes, Director of DOC, and the cooperation and dedication of his staff, this grant application might not have been successful,” said Beth Spencer, program manager of CFS. “We are fortunate to have someone in his position who understands the underlying factors behind criminal behavior and how supporting parents can positively impact their children – making our community better overall. These kinds of programs have also been shown to decrease behavioral incidents for those in detention, so the environment becomes safer for Correctional Officers, as well.”
OJJDP funded only ten grantees nationwide under this solicitation Funds are also provided by the Dorchester County Local Management Board for CFS program coordination.