Connecting for Success (Dorchester Co. FY 17 & Beyond)

Story Behind the Curve

The estimated number (strongly believed to be on the low side) of Dorchester County children with a parent incarcerated or on parole is 1,021, which is 20% of the student enrollment in our public schools.The impact of incarceration on children and families includes:family instability, reduced household income, higher rates of child welfare involvement, post traumatic effects such as hyper-vigilance, caregiver and child feelings of despair and powerlessness, poor academic outcomes, children being victims of bullying and mental health issues/involvement.

Communities with high rates of incarceration have high unemployment, increased community crime and drug problems, low incomes, high rates of public assistance participation, low educational attainment, and high rates of student drop outs, lower life expectancy and community disorganization/lack of civic engagement.

FY 18 Mid Year: 

Connecting For Success continued at a steady pace providing outreach, parenting and counseling services to families impacted by incarceration over this past reporting period.  Our team is much more cohesive and a flow to the program services has really developed.  Our collaboration with local service agencies continues to grow stronger, the network has widened and opportunities for partnership have become abundant!  We have been inspired by the expanding opportunity to realize a two- generation approach with some of the families that we serve and expect that to grow as our program name continues to become more recognizable within the community.

Program Summary

To meet this goal, we plan to:

  • Develop relationships with our local Detention Center, law enforcement, Parole and Probation, public schools, Addictions Program, child serving agencies, local churches and community agencies that may play a role in achieving our goal.
  • Upon referral, the child and family will be evaluated by a licensed therapist and an individualized/family plan will be developed.
  • The CAFAS (Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale) will be used as an evaluation tool and as a performance measure on a bi-annual basis.
  • Hire a community outreach worker to work with incarcerated and recently released parents to obtain background information and evaluate their relationships with their children.Development of the survey tool to obtain demographic and pertinent background data is underway. The “Relational Inquiry Tool” developed by Family Justice will be used to support the incarcerated parent regarding family relationships and as an introduction to participate in the Parenting Inside Out (PIO) classes.
  • As incarcerated parents in this program reenter the community, we will work with parole and probation to strengthen connections to the families.This may involve supporting the recently released parent in their mental health or substance use treatment.It may be supporting them with a job search, but the biggest emphasis will be on strengthening the parental roles within the family system.Some may return directly to home where family therapy will be included.Others may be working towards establishing a relationship with the child or others in the home.Using the PIO model as we become trained and proficient will help direct these parenting skills.
  • Parenting Inside Out will be a major approach offered to incarcerated parents in the county detention center, to recently released parents and to caregivers of the identified children in the program.Performance measures are built into this program.
  • School-based services to children of the identified families will include individual, group and family services.A wide range of techniques will be employed based upon the needs of the children.This may include trauma-focused services, play therapy, social skills groups along with new approaches; such as Yoga Calm, that addresses the emerging science of brain development.
  • Ongoing evaluation will determine the level of parent and child involvement.The goal is that all parents and caregivers involved with the child will improve their parenting skills and work together to strengthen the family and improve the family life of the children.

Target Population

Connect for Success will serve a targeted population of elementary-aged children who have been impacted by an incarcerated parent, inclusive of their caregiving family members and the incarcerated parent.

Governor's Strategic Goal

Impact of Incarceration on Child, family and community

Local Highlight

FY 21 Mid-Year Highlights:

We were able to provide education to Correctional Officers on emotional trauma, trauma informed care with those incarcerated, ACEs, and how trauma informed practices can positively impact the culture of the detention center and interactions with those who are incarcerated.  The classes also offered opportunities for self-care and wellness in the form of trauma sensitive yoga and meditation.  Beginning 7-14-20 and ending 10-7-20, seventeen 5- hour classes were conducted for 46/47 of the Correctional Officers employed by DDC.  CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19 safety measures were followed.  Results showed that Correctional Officers gained a better understanding of trauma, how it impacts the brain and how it impacts those who are incarcerated.


FY 18 Mid Year Highlights: 

  • In July, we hosted Ann Adalist-Estrin, Director of the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated, Rutgers University, for a two-day training.  The first day was open to the community and focused on responding to the general needs of children and families of the incarcerated in programs, systems and communities.  The second day was specific technical assistance for our program staff only, to fine tune the development of recruiting and servicing families in our community impacted by incarceration.

  • In August, Sue Radcliffe completed her 200 hour RTY certification followed by attendance by Sue and Mindy Black-Kelly at a 3-day Teaching Yoga & Mindfulness in Prison/Prison Yoga Project training at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.  This training focused specifically on trauma informed yoga for justice system involved individuals.

  • Trauma-informed yoga sessions continue to be offered for children of incarcerated parents (CIOP) in the two local elementary schools served by our program.  This is offered either as 15 minute morning groups or individually as a treatment modality.  As well, two longer groups (3rd grade and 4th grade) for COIP continue weekly.

  • Three in-service sessions were presented by one of our therapists for the corrections officers at the Dorchester County Detention Center to better educate on the benefits of providing yoga to inmates and in anticipation of beginning Anger Management and Mindful Movements (based on the Prison Yoga Project) class beginning in January 2018.  In addition, yoga classes for the corrections officers themselves have been offered as a mode of self-care.  We are quite sure that no other program in Maryland is offering prison yoga to both the inmates and the staff, in an effort to improve the overall climate at the detention center.

  • In-service sessions on the mind/body benefits of yoga as a treatment modality, especially for families impacted by incarceration, have also been held for staff at two of our community partner agencies (Marshy Hope Family Services and Mid Shore Behavioral Health).

  • A third Parenting Inside Out (PIO) jail version 20 hour class was held and completed in November.

  • A recently released father received a PIO community version certificate after working through the curriculum 1:1 with staff over the past few months despite transportation and literacy barriers.

  • Staff partnered with another Health Department program, DRI Dock Recovery & Wellness Center, in having one of their forensic peer support specialists, Richard Lewis, address our PIO class during one of the last class sessions.  Available community services upon re-entry such as NA/AA meetings, recovery classes and an ex-offender support group were explained by Mr. Lewis.  In addition, he shared his “story” in an effort to offer hope and direction for a productive life on the “outside”.  This was extremely well-received, particularly since the PIO participants already had the trust of our staff as the “parenting coaches” in bringing in a “guest”.  Some have since asked to meet with Mr. Lewis 1:1 as they are developing their re-entry plans.

  • Big News!  Staff worked with the DCDC Director to supervise a holiday family in-person visitation between the fathers who completed our last PIO class and their children.  To our knowledge, this has not been offered to the male inmates at DCDC in about 20 years.  This visit was strictly between the fathers (those who remained on good behavior status in the jail) and their children, absent of any caregiver interference, so that they could practice some of the techniques learned in PIO.  We spent 30 minutes with the dads prior to the visit reviewing some key parenting concepts, discussing the range of emotions present and coping skills to use in anticipation of saying “goodbye” at the end of the visit.  Simultaneously, our outreach worker prepared the children for the walk back to meet their dads – what they would see and hear and what to expect when they entered the gym.  The visits lasted one hour.  Afterward, we facilitated a “de-briefing” with the dads.  All were affirmed through this visit that they still have a special relationship with their children, are still valued as fathers, and shared motivation to make better choices upon their release so as to be better parents.  Wow – this was a powerful event!

  • Connecting For Success hosted a community focus group in November to include professionals, para-professionals, community members, caregivers/family members, recently released program participants, and staff.  We presented on our program services and then discussed community strengths, barriers, needs and opportunities with regard to those impacted by incarceration in our community and how we may best incorporate this valuable information as our program moves forward in service. 

  • Our outreach worker has provided valuable support to both incarcerated clients and caregivers/family members by accompanying them to court hearings whenever possible throughout this reporting period.  In addition, although not counted in the matrix statistics, the outreach worker has provided on-going support to three (3) caregivers, developing a service plan and linking them to appropriate community services and resources.

  • Recently released program participants continue to be provided with a “resource bag” upon re-entry to the community.  This bag is filled with toiletries and “starter” items such as tooth brush/tooth paste, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, laundry detergent, a t-shirt, notebook/pen, and lists of vital community resources contact information.  This draw-string bag is gifted at the first face to face visit with staff at our community based office.  We recognize how meaningful it can be to have even small things “taken care of” when one is overwhelmed by the daunting task of acquiring housing, employment, and meeting all probation/parole requirements.  Very often, recently released individuals come out with “nothing” and are starting from scratch to re-build their lives.

  • We have been able to offer a combination of counseling, parenting and outreach services to members within the same family system in several cases now and we anticipate this growing as our program is becoming well known in the community.

  • Additional new or on-going staff trainings over the past six months included: Narcan training, CPR certification, HIPAA (in-house), Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World (2-day), Project Management, Leadership & Communication, Supervision and Leadership Management (2-day), Yoga Calm for Children,  Linking Mental Health to School Success/Cultivating Healthy Communities, From Incarceration to Community, Ethical Considerations in Developing Culturally Sensitive Patient/Provider Relationships, and a “brown-bag” training on domestic violence.

  • Staff continued to participate in the monthly Mid Shore’s Forensic Workgroup and

           annual SIM map meeting.

  • Staff participated in the Help, Hope & Housing Community Resource Fair sponsored by our local Health Department and the Department of Social Services.

  • Staff continued ongoing collaboration with and made referrals to many local service agencies to include the Dorchester County Detention Center, Dorchester County Public Schools, Mid Shore Pro Bono, Dorchester County Parole & Probation, Channel Marker, Inc., Dorchester County Addictions Program,  GNI Properties, Mid Shore Behavioral Health, Community Behavioral Health, Dri Dock Recovery & Wellness Center, Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulations, Chesapeake College,  Workforce Development, Marshy Hope Family Services, Local Coordinating Team and the Family Support Services Coordinator at Dorchester County Circuit Court. 

Quarter 3 Highlights

In January 2018, Sue Radcliffe gave a 15 minute presentation to the Juvenile Coordinating Council on “yoga and the brain” and the benefits to both the children we serve in counseling and incarcerated parents (as therapeutic and self-regulation tools respectively.


Trauma-informed yoga sessions continue to be offered for children of incarcerated parents (CIOP) in the two local elementary schools served by our program.  This is offered either as “breakfast groups”, longer grade-specific groups or individually as a treatment modality.  


      Education on the benefits of providing yoga and meditation to inmates was offered to new correctional officers at DCDC this past quarter by our staff as part of their in-service training.


In an effort to collaborate with other facilities offering Prison Yoga, Sue Radcliffe visited Fairfax Detention Center, Fairfax VA, and observed a yoga class there.


In February, our program hosted a visit from Ann Adalist-Estrin who observed sessions of our Parenting Inside Out and Anger Management/ Mindful Movements Yoga classes at DCDC followed by participation in a collaborative/informational meeting with Ann, Detention Center personnel and other community partners.


We continued to stay connected with the Maryland Director of the Prison Yoga Project, Nancy Kochuk, for support and to keep lines of communication open on the progress of our classes.


In addition to serving “in/out” parents, our Outreach Worker has been able to support several care givers, including providing accompaniment to court hearings, and appropriate referrals to community services.


Additional new or on-going staff trainings over the past quarter included:  Yoga Calm for Children, Emergency Petition training, SANTE CIT “Role Play Train the Trainer” course  and a Poverty Simulation training.  Staff continued to participate in the monthly Mid Shore Forensic Workgroup               


FY 19 Mid Year Highlights: 

  • The CFS staff hosted a “coffee and donuts” information morning during family visitation at the Dorchester Department of Corrections (DDC) on November 4, 2018.  We spoke about the Connecting For Success Program services, and distributed books, literature, stuffed animals and the Sesame Street “Little Children, BIG Challenges: Incarceration” kits to the visiting children which included a DVD, guide for parents & caregivers and a children’s storybook.  We also distributed a 4 question “impact survey” to willing participants, aiming always to increase our knowledge base of what families impacted by incarceration need. 
  • Our first Getting Ahead While Getting Out group, facilitated by outreach workers Lavonnia Aubrey and Jan Baker, was completed in December 2018.  This group was held 1x week for 2 hour sessions over a total of 23 weeks (10 session in Q2, 13 sessions in Q1) and offered to the women at DDC.  The group began with 10 participants.
  • Community based groups included Parenting Inside Out (community version) held at the Dorchester County Health Department and support group meetings for both justice-involved program participants and caregivers held at the Overflow Café (42 group sessions for the first half of the year).
  • Continuing education and staff training included the following:  Forensic Social Work:  Youth with Incarcerated Parents, The 8th Annual Eastern Shore School Mental Health Coalition Conference, and Emotional Poverty (Ruby Payne). They also participated in the Mid Shore Behavioral Health’s Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) meeting in November 2018.  Staff also continued to regularly attend Mid Shore’s monthly Forensic Workgroup.


Data Discussion

Mid year FY 2022:

The jail-version of the Parenting Inside Out (PIO) program was started in early July 2021 but shut down after only two class sessions due to a Covid 19 outbreak in the facility. We were able to resume class in late September and continue until November. Although we served seven (7) fathers between the two abridged classes, none received a certificate of completion due to attrition (release from incarceration, transfer to DOC or another facility such as an inpatient rehab).

One participant completed 70% of the class and was eligible for the “pre” and “post” survey comparison measure. This participant showed an increase in overall parenting knowledge, reported feeling “very satisfied” with the class, reported an improvement in the quality of his relationship with his children as well as increased communication with his children through phone calls and video visits. His additional comments were “(This was) one of the best classes I have ever attended. I have learned so much about parenting skills that wouldn’t be possible without Mrs. Sue and Mrs. Mindy. They are the absolute best teachers.”

Our Outreach Workers assessed level of family involvement on intake assessments and/or support plans with 39 justice involved parents during this reporting period.

Our Mental Health therapists served 22 children with a justice involved parent and held a total of 444 individual, family or group sessions during which parent-child relationship issues were addressed ongoing. These sessions were held both in-person and via teletherapy conducted via the secure platform

A Parenting Inside Out (PIO) class was held in the community October – December 2021. We partnered with Hudson Townhomes who allowed the use of their community center for group sessions. We had 2 justice-involved parent participants. Both received a certificate of completion.

Both (100%) had an increased score on the PIO post-test which measures parenting knowledge and attitudes.

Both (100%) reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the parenting information.

Both (100%) reported that the quality of their relationship with their child(ren) improved and had increased communication with their child(ren). One (50%) re-gained custody of her children as a result of completing the class.

As well, both participants enrolled in the case management component of our program upon completion of the class.

Participant comments were: “I’m very, very thankful for this class and the help. I feel I needed this class and it needs to be open to more parents. I will use this to become a more hands on parent.”

CFS began our Anger Management Mindful Movements (AMMM) yoga class in July 2021. We were able to complete 4 out of 6 classes (66%) with three (3) fathers before being shut down due to a Covid 19 outbreak in the facility. We were unable to resume the class later in this reporting period due to complicated logistics within the facility such as the gym being designated as a holding area for ICE and/or for quarantine as needed.

Our Outreach Workers served a total of 39 justice involved clients with case management services and had a total of 566 face to face or video encounters (in the jail, community or office-based settings). In addition, 4 caregivers were supported with case management services and a total of 44 face to face/video encounters took place. Thirty-two (32) “Getting Ahead While Getting Out” groups sessions were held at DDC involving a total of 29 parents. Eight (8) “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World” groups sessions were held in the community with 4 parents participating. In addition, 21 Life Skills group sessions were held with 6 parents participating.

Mental health services were provided both in-person and via telehealth. Yoga and mindfulness techniques were utilized coping strategies for most of the clients we served. Case management was a regular part of working with COIPs and their families in therapy. Several COIPs were referred for psychiatric evaluations/medication management and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP) services as a case management function of treatment. COIPs and their families were directed to community resources for food baskets and holiday gift assistance.

The mental health therapists continued to assist COIPs with letter writing/drawings to his/her incarcerated parent as well as facilitate phone calls as part of the treatment process. Following parent-teacher conferences at the end of September, (see “significant accomplishments” section), we were able to send some Grade Level books to those incarcerated parents who participated in a conference. These books were the same as his/her child was currently reading in school so that they could read together during phone calls or video visits. This took coordinating with case workers at each facility and in some cases, multiple emails and phone calls to multiple people, but persistence won out in the end!

We were unable to facilitate in-person visits post PIO class. We did not have any “graduates” to offer this to during this past reporting period, but there were also Covid 19 restrictions in place at DDC as well as staff shortages that would have made this difficult even if we had eligible participants.

FY 18 Mid year Challenges: 

  • Negotiating the “punitive” vs “rehabilitative” views of incarceration among many corrections officers continues to be challenging, however we feel the in-service trainings provided by our program have made a difference in changing mindsets for some.


  • Knowledge of community resources is lacking for many incarcerated parents.  He/she can be very vulnerable in those first few days after release and if not immediately connected with services, safe places to go, or the Outreach Worker, can easily become involved with the same elements that led to incarceration in the first place.  The recidivism rate in Dorchester County has been close to 80% for the many months.  Our staff continues to assist in the coordination of applicable “guest speakers” for our “inside parents” in an attempt to close this knowledge gap.


It has continued to be the case that some guardians do not want the child(ren) to have contact with the incarcerated parent due to the nature of the crime or parent-child relationship  (child physical/sexual abuse, violence in the home, etc.).  As well, there is a direct link between the opioid epidemic and incarceration for many of our families.  There is an incredible amount pain, trauma and negative emotions associated with the incarcerated parent for many of our child clients.  In some cases, the children and their guardians have been lied to, stolen from, abused/assaulted or witnessed abuse due to addiction and doing “whatever it takes” to obtain drugs or money for drugs.  Often, this is at the emotional forefront of treatment as opposed to “loss” due to the physical separation of the child and their offending parent.  The incarceration of a parent for some children is a “break” from the trauma of living with an addicted and/or abusive parent.  As a result, some children show a higher CAFAS score as they process this trauma in counseling, before stabilizing

FY 19 Mid year Challenges: 

  • Although collaboration with our local Detention Center has been excellent, developing ties with DOC prison staff has been a more recent challenge.  When we know that a DOC inmate, usually the parent of child we are already working with, is expected to be coming back to Dorchester County, our staff tries to connect with that individual or the facility to begin a re-entry plan within 1-2 months of release.  We know that this early connection increases rates of follow through in our program and ultimately decreases recidivism.  DOC case workers and social workers change, inmates are transferred, and DOC staff haven’t been particularly responsive to phone calls or emails, which has been frustrating. 
  • It has been challenging with a small staff of 3.8 FTEs to run several types of groups continuously, simultaneously AND in various settings, while continuing to provide individual outreach services, therapy, and “special events” within our 2-generational approach model. 
Measurement Tool Used

The Ease of Relationship tool was no longer available and used as a measurement tool for the PIO program.  The program is measured using the PIO-J (Jail) and the PIO-C (Community).  Staff collected data using the tool approved by the program and the additional measures have been added. 

Current Actual Value
Current Target Value
% Change
HFY1 2023
HFY1 2023
Data Discussion

This program was created new in FY 17 and was not fully implemented until November 2016, therefore there is little data available for the report ending December 2016. All data will be available by year end.

No data was collected using the Parent Ease of Relationship tool because it is no longer available.  The acceptable measurement tool is the PIO-J (Jail) and the PIO-C (Community)

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy