Funded Programs

Since fiscal year 2008, the Institute for Municipal & Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University has been receiving annual funding from the Connecticut General Assembly to administer competitive grants for providing positive interventions for at-risk youth whose parent(s) and/or family members have been incarcerated. Since that time, the IMRP established the CIP Initiative which has provided supportive funding for several diverse programs seeking to support CIP. The mission for the CIP Initiative is to improve the quality of supports for children with incarcerated parents by using the various data and knowledge it gains to inform public policy and practice. Below are descriptions of programs that have received supportive funding from the CIP Initiative.

Middle School Reading for Reasoning Program for Children of Incarcerated Parents

The Middle School Reading for Reasoning Program for Children of Incarcerated Parents is an after- school program during the academic year and an all-day program during five weeks of the summer. The participants, ages 11-15, complete the intense program that weaves reading, writing, problem-solving, self-awareness, empowerment, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, art and community engagement. Participants read a series of short stories as well as books that discuss black history and explore some of the challenges children living in the Newhallville section of New Haven may experience, including parental incarceration. Children engage in discussions and activities about the readings through which they explore their own and their peers’ personal experiences and perspectives.

Youth Voice

CCSU Communication

CCSU Professor Rati Kumar and ParaDYM, a community based non-profit organization that provides after-school and out-of school trainings and programs centered on youth voice, will develop a CIP led media-based intervention about the stigma and potential health issues faced by CIP. This will result in a change in knowledge and attitude measures of both the community members and CIPs themselves in the cities of New Britain, Hartford, and Bridgeport, CT.

CIP SCHOLARSHIPS

The CIP Initiative offers scholarship for CCSU students that have experienced the incarceration of a close family member. Eligible students may receive up to $1,500 per academic semester for a total of six semesters. For more information, please email us at ctcip@ccsu.edu.

Tomorrow’s Children Program

Families in Crisis Program, FIC, provides specialized services that strengthen families, enhance community safety, and promote individual responsibility. FIC is one of only a few organizations dedicated to meeting the critical needs of offenders and their families. Families of offenders, especially children with parents who are incarcerated, have special needs.

Tomorrow’s Children Program is a child-focused counseling program for children affected by incarceration of a parent. The program includes home-based counseling for families that reside in the Hartford region. TC also collaborates with community partners that provide non-traditional forms of therapeutic services (such as equine therapy and arts movement) to further assist children and families through the process of change. Families with children from one to eighteen who have a parent in prison are eligible for services. The stress on a child when a parent is imprisoned has been compared to divorce or the death of a parent. Children have to deal with stigma, loss of financial support, the absence of a loving adult and other challenges. Families in Crisis children’s programs such as Tomorrow’s Children, Nurturing Families and Arts Intervention address the emotional and social health of children who are at-risk due to the incarceration of a parent.

Communities Inspiring Action: Youth of Incarcerated Parents

From August 2009 until November 2011, the IMRP participated in an intense collaboration with Hartford Public Library and Everyday Democracy in a community discussion initiative with Hartford- area residents. Persons from the Greater Hartford community were recruited to participate on, and lead, this project. Members included residents, Hartford Office of Youth Services employees, formerly incarcerated persons, college students, CSSD staff, several not-for-profit workers, DCF employees, community liaisons from the Hartford Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services, and Hartford 2000 staff.

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Early on, participants in the project chose to first direct their efforts toward the topic of children of incarcerated parents. They identified two primary goals: to serve as a pilot leading to the establishment of a permanent process/structure for community participation and action as well as community-driven policy change on local, regional, national and global public issues to engage the community, especially those who are most affected by incarceration, in dialogue that leads to policy-making and personal action to improve the lives and conditions of children of incarcerated parents.

Throughout this project, several successful discussions were held within Hartford neighborhoods most affected by incarceration with participants from such diverse backgrounds as formerly incarcerated individuals to state representatives, police officers, business owners, teenagers and probation officers. During these discussions, the needs of the community, in relation to children with incarcerated parents, were realized and attendees volunteered to create task forces to address these specific concerns. Arguably the most successful product of this work was the creation of Breaking the Cycle – Empowering Families Support Group which continues to meet and grow today.

Breaking the Cycle- Empowering Families Support Group

Through the community dialogues hosted by Communities Inspiring Action: Youth of Incarcerated Parents, the CIA: YIP collaborative realized that one of the primary needs residents of Hartford felt was unaddressed, was community support for families enduring the challenges of parental incarceration. As a result, one of the volunteer members of CIA:YIP, Giselle Jacobs, began hosting monthly community support group meetings in her home in Hartford in January of 2011. To increase awareness of the group meetings, she also began performing extensive outreach in neighborhoods throughout Hartford with the highest rates of incarceration, as well as courthouses, local businesses, correctional facility waiting areas, community events, etc. The IMRP recognized the potential benefit of community-established support groups and hired Ms. Jacobs to continue, and expand, her outreach and community support efforts. The IMRP wanted to provide the group with the support of a dedicated part-time staff person to further develop and strengthen the group to a level of sustainability.

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Ms. Jacobs is working on strengthening the group itself, encouraging leadership amongst its members, empowering the families and children of those incarcerated, and helping Breaking the Cycle identify, pursue and achieve its goals. The intent with this work is to break the barriers of silence and isolation that result from parental incarceration, provide support to get through difficult times as well as realize and promote one’s strengths.

It is also the hope of the IMRP that the activities of the group will strengthen the voice of those affected by criminal justice policies and practices. As a result, the group may advocate for themselves and thereby help to shape policy in a manner that may diminish harm and provide strength to families and the community. It is also a desire of the IMRP that the process Ms. Jacobs has created for developing a sustainable community support group become a model that may be replicated elsewhere to allow members of other communities the same opportunity to gather and support each other in a manner that is sustainable, but also specific to that location’s cultures and needs.

Thinking
CCSU, Teacher Education

UConn, Social Work

During the summer of 2012, the IMRP supported a pilot program hosted at the Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School in Hartford for children of incarcerated parents. This initiative, called ThinKING, was part of a large collaborative including the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence (CTCN), Blue Hills Civic Association, UConn Department of Social Work, CCSU faculty Dr. Jacob Werblow and William Fothergill, among others. The Hartford-area high school aged male and female participants completed a three-week intense training on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s model for nonviolent conflict resolution, Kingian Nonviolence. Participants graduated with level-1 certification in Kingian Nonviolence.

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Through funding from the state legislature for Youth Violence Prevention, IMRP has again partnered with CTCN to extend nonviolence programming for youth in New Haven. Current partnerships for this work include the New Haven Family Alliance, St. Martin dePorres School, Cooperative High School, and Southern Connecticut State University, among others. Beginning Fall of 2014, CTCN open youth nonviolence clubs in New Haven where youth and adults trained in the Kingian Nonviolence will have a formal way to teach and apply Nonviolence in the community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Amachi child mentoring program is a national program that has been in existence for several decades. June 2008 to August 2010, the IMRP’s CIP Initiative provided additional funding to Nutmeg, the Hartford branch (which subcontracted with the Bridgeport and New London-area branches) that allowed more matches to be made between mentors and children with incarcerated parents.

During the initial year of funding, from June 2008 until August 2009, approximately 153 children were matched with a mentor. In the second year, beginning in August 2009 and ending in August 2010, about 106 new children were served. A quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the services provided to the children was conducted by CCSU faculty and staff.

Strong Families
Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic

The IMRP has provided funding for Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic’s Strong Families program to provide direct care clinical services to CIP living in the Greater New Haven area since 2011. This program encompasses a menu of services for children of incarcerated parents and their families, depending upon their identified needs. Services that are available through this initiative include a model of cognitive-behavioral therapy that the Clinic is developing to address the specific needs of CIP, Wraparound Milwaukee care coordination, a children’s support group and a caregiver support group. Upon referral for services, each client is assessed and depending upon the needs identified, matched for services that may best suit each individual and family.

Naylor School
CCSU Teacher Education, English & Art Education

During the spring of 2010, a unique collaboration took place between CCSU and students at the pre-kindergarten through 8th grade Dr. James H. Naylor/CCSU Professional Development School in Hartford. With the assistance of CCSU’s Department of Teacher Education’s Karen Riem and CCSU professors Mary Collins of the English Department and Jerry Butler of Art Education, students from both CSSU and Naylor School had the opportunity to work together on creating an artistic product. Seventh and 8th grade students at the Dr. James H. Naylor School worked closely with the two classes at CCSU. The children wrote letters, poems and short stories. Professor Collins’ Advanced Creative Nonfiction class read and edited the children’s work creating a 103- page magazine that was published as part of the CCSU literary journal, The Helix, and distributed to all public libraries in the state. Professor Butler and his art education students worked with children whose parents were incarcerated on a mural project. His class met regularly with the children to design a narrative theme for the mural based on the children’s writings. This mural continues to hang in the main grand entranceway of the school.

What I Want to Say
Judy Dworin Performance Project

In April of 2009, the IMRP contracted with the Judy Dworin Performance Project, Inc. (JDPP) to pilot What I Want to Say, an arts-based outreach activity with women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution (York CI) and their children in the community. JDPP along with FIC, worked with women at York CI and their children utilizing a series of techniques including dance, song, storytelling, poetry and personal testimony. One goal of the project was to bridge the gap between mothers and their children to more effectively support and nurture communication and bonding. Another goal was to raise public awareness of issues impacting children with incarcerated mothers.

Bridging the Divides: An Arts Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents
Judy Dworin Performance Project

In 2010, the JDPP expanded What I Want to Say to work with children in the community during a three-phase program called Bridging the Divides: An Arts Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents. What I Want to Say provided JDPP with the experience with CIP that then assisted JDPP in successfully acquiring additional funding for this extended intervention. In 2010, the JDPP received a $30,000 annual, three-year grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. JDPP contracted with the IMRP to evaluate the effect that this program had on its participants during its initial year of programming. That report was submitted to the JDPP during the winter of 2011.

Crossroads, Inc.

Crossroads treatment facility is a private, state-funded, non-profit agency providing residential and outpatient treatment. Crossroads is located in a public housing community in the West Rock section of New Haven that is overwhelmed by parental incarceration with little to no access to programming for youth. In an effort to offer the youth residents constructive programming, in 2010 Crossroads implemented several free programs: karate, African dance and choir.

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Although the programs were not specifically designed to address the unique needs of youth dealing with parental incarceration, the premise was to teach discipline and teamwork while providing a safe, caring place for youth. In agreement with justice reinvestment ideology, the introduction of strengthening and positive programming into a community highly affected by incarceration may act as a deterrent to criminal behavior and a prevention of incarceration. Crossroads provided services for dozens of children, youth and young adults living in this physically isolated, poverty-stricken community.

West Rock Athletic Program
CCSU, Teacher Education SCSU, Social Work

During the winter of 2012, West Rock Athletic Program (WRAP) implemented its pilot intervention with youth residing in the West Rock housing projects that have a loved one incarcerated. This pilot consisted of five-weeks of programming during which the youth participants partook in a basketball tournament requiring twice-weekly practices (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and weekly (Saturday afternoons) doubleheader games. Youth also engaged in weekly (Mondays) enrichment activities at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) instructed by a Social Work Assistant Professor, Dr. Robert Broce, as well as Social Work SCSU students. During these weekly sessions, participants engaged in group discussion and personal exploration. Additionally, program participants engaged in other weekly (Saturday mornings) group activities.

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During the first three weeks, youth learned Martin Luther King, Jr.’s model for nonviolent conflict resolution, Kingian Nonviolence, instructed by the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence. During the last two weeks, participants engaged in artistic expression through mask making and writing, facilitated by CCSU’s Teacher Education Assistant Professor, Dr. Jacob Werblow.

This intervention, although brief, has provided a unique opportunity to learn a lot about the CIP population in the West Rock neighborhood.

Echoes from a Child’s Soul: Children of Incarcerated Parents Release Their Voices Through Art, Music, Dance, Mask Making, Movement, and Creative Writing
CCSU, Teacher Education

During the Spring of 2012, Echoes from a Child’s Soul engaged pre-service teacher candidates in elementary and art education from four CCSU courses, with artists and fifth grade children from two New Britain elementary schools that have, according to the principals, a significant population of children with incarcerated parents. Mask making, movement and mural workshops were held during the regular school day as well as afterschool. Workshops on mask making, movement, murals and creative writing for fifth grade children and CCSU students were designed to explore self-portraits, personal voice and sense of self. One of the goals of this project was to provide an aesthetic vehicle such as the Mask, so that children and CCSU students may investigate the concept of unmasking, to visualize and project their voices, memories and feelings. Symbolic messages utilizing masks, dance, poetry and murals were documented, exhibited, and presented during a final performance for the community. The final performance was held in CCSU’s Welte Auditorium for the fourth and fifth grade children from the two New Britain Public Schools. Additionally, this community engagement project helped prepare teacher candidates to develop competencies in cultural relevancy, interdisciplinary arts curriculum for children, aesthetic and ecojustice methodology to address social-eco justice issues on local levels.

Production in the Community
CCSU, Communications

In the spring of 2009, the Production in the Community pilot commenced. CCSU students worked closely with Hartford at-risk youth through a filmmaking/mentorship curriculum. Structured as a 495 (Special Topics) course, this collaboration utilized CCSU’s advanced production students as trained and supervised one-on-one mentors to meet the below-listed objectives

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1. To alter negative youth perceptions or misconceptions about higher education through a positive educational experience.
2. To engage at-risk youth in the growing field of digital film production through telling their stories.
3. To expose CCSU students to the challenges and importance of community engagement through such endeavors.
4. To provide on-going, sustainable engagement, to dissuade at-risk youth from negative/ destructive behavior.
5. To advance filmmaking skills of our youth participants so that they might be more attractive to potential employers.

Since the success of the pilot was realized, the IMRP and CCSU’s Department of Communication, through Professor Jeffrey B. Teitler, formed a more long-term relationship. This partnership provided CCSU students the opportunity for longer-term community engagement, skills enhancement, mentorship and employment. Production students have produced a number of unique films demonstrating the experiences of children of incarcerated parents. The film creation process has also provided the film students with an introduction into the issues related to parental incarceration, and employment as the IMRP has been able to hire several CCSU Production graduates as permanent part-time employees.

Responding to Children of Arrested Caregivers Together
Child Health and Development Institute of CT (CHDI.org)

The IMRP has provided funding to the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut (CHDI) to develop a model and subsequent training for responding to children when their caregiver is arrested. CHDI has created REsponding to Children of Arrested Caregivers Together, or REACT, that involves a collaborative response when a child’s parent or caregiver is arrested that includes the local Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Service provider, police, and when applicable the Department of Children and Families. CHDI piloted this model in Waterbury and Manchester.

Immigration and Children of Incarcerated, Detained, and Deported Parents

This project seeks to gain a better understanding of the challenges an immigrant family may face when a loved one is involved with immigration enforcement or criminal justice systems. A series of one-on-one interviews have been held in the community to capture the experiences of these families.