Project SEEK (Wicomico County FY18 and Beyond) (Annual)

Story Behind the Curve

FY19: In the 4th quarter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore (BBBSES) continued to host Big Hope Network youth groups and support groups for caregivers. Through these groups, along with case management phone calls and home visits, we have continued to maintain a safe space for our families to express their feelings and challenges. The focus of this quarter was providing ongoing support, establishing trust, and building rapport. Outreach efforts were increased again to include local detention centers with the goal of reaching out directly to inmates with children who will benefit from the program’s group activities and case management. BBBSES continued to promote The Big Hope Network programming to children and families in Wicomico County through information tables throughout the communities. Big Brothers Big Sisters case managers also carry Big Hope Network information with them to all intakes in case the family qualifies for the program.

The Big Hope Network/Project SEEK has gained popularity, due to enrolled participants sharing the benefits of participation with friends and family members who may be eligible. The awarded vendor, Big Brothers Big Sisters, marketing efforts including promoting the program to community members and businesses, have increased both community recognition of the program and enrollment. The marketing approach includes distribution of literature, participation in local community events and direct marketing to businesses. 

Partners

FY19 Annual: Currently, outreach efforts continue to include schools, local detention facilities and the Salisbury’s Promise committee. We also engaged Halo Ministries and Wraparound for outreach. Some of our kids took advantage of Camp Agape as a summer activity. We will continue to maintain an awareness of local resources and stay connected to local resource organizations to ensure the best in quality service delivery and coordination. Local restaurants are also continuing to partner with BBBSES to provide meals for families during monthly activities.


Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore

Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce

Prison Ministries

Wicomico Partnership for Familes and Children

Wicomico Elementary and Middle School Counselors

Asbury United Methodist Church

Bethany Lutheran Church

Grace United Methodist Church

Providence Presbyterian Church

St. James AME Zion Church

Trinity United Methodist Church

EPOCH Dream Center

What Works

To obtain positive outcomes, The Big Hope Network focuses on gaining the trust of families, the caregivers, and children. Big Brothers Big Sisters start by assuring them that home visits are merely an added support measure, not for reporting to anyone. Next, the staff talks to family members about their needs and what can be done to enable the family to thrive while their loved one is incarcerated. Tailoring the approach to be centered on the needs of the families served has proven to be highly effective in securing the trust of participants, and increasing the likelihood that they will share the program with others in similar situations. 

Strategy

Modeling Project SEEK with technical assistance from SEEK researchers and practitioners to include:

  • Home Visits
  • Advocacy & Referrals
  • Support Groups (1 for children and 1 for caregivers)
  • Communication between child and inmate

Multiple methods are employed to get youth and caregivers to The Big Hope Network events as consistent participation is a constant hurdle when working with community. Multiple reminders are sent to families for group sessions though phone, email, mail, and in person visits. Case managers also facilitate rides to children who want to attend but have transportation difficulties. The staff believe that as they continue to build relationships with families through home visits, attendance will rise at monthly youth groups. 

All of the youth groups include a meal or snack, some group time, and a fun activity. This gives all of the children, with different personalities and strengths, a time to shine. Some children really enjoy sharing about themselves and their lives and they thrive in a group setting. Others are more hands on and shine in fun acitvity. 

FY19 Annual: The most effective strategy for maintaining engagement between BBBSES and Big Hope Network families continues to be consistent, meaningful contact in a variety of methods most convenient for our families. At minimum, each family in the program receives a home visit quarterly and monthly case management calls. Depending on the needs of the family, case management is done more frequently. Group reminders are sent by mail a week before each group, calls or texts are sent the day before to families we have not heard from. To eliminate the barrier of transportation, staff and interns provide rides to group. Each Big Hope Network youth group begins with an icebreaker game and check in from the past month. We also open the circle for discussion about whatever topics the youth choose. Youth then break out into smaller groups according to age and do an activity related to the session’s topic. If time allows, the larger group comes together again for open play time which allows for rapport building among the participants and staff as well as a chance for staff to observe the youth in a more relaxed setting. Caregiver group will continue to provide time for open discussion and will now include time for addressing and creating solutions.

Action Plan

FY19 Annual: As BBBSES case managers continue to build rapport with families enrolled in The Big Hope Network, more in-depth discussions about incarceration and how it affects the family is occurring naturally. We will continue to be deliberate in building trust and promoting empowerment among our families. Youth and caregiver group discussions and activities will continue to be developed to help members build confidence in sharing and problem solving. Summertime groups will continue to include purposeful bonding activities and conversations relating to emotions, incarceration, and family support. Our youth groups will continue to break out by age after opening activities to allow the kids an even safer place to talk, especially the teenagers, without interruption and will allow case managers to better tailor their discussions. As trust is established, case managers will be able to promote communication and visitation with the absent parent and help facilitate better relationships with those parents.
The Big Hope Network caregiver breakout sessions are allowing the parents a safe place to talk away from their children. These sessions are based on the Active Parenting curriculum, and parents and caregivers support each other by building a support system among themselves. As caregivers and parents identify needs, case managers will use this information to follow up with families and offer support based on the local resources available.


Case managers build rapport with families enrolled in the program, more in-depth discussions about incarceration and how it has affected the lives of the participants will occur. Through these groups and continued discussions, the staff hope to build confidence to share more of the children's thoughts and feelings relating to parental incarceration. The groups are divided into groups based on age to allow the youth an even safer place to talk, especially teenagers, without interruption and will allow case managers to tailor their discussions better. When the children feel comfortable relaying those feelings, the staff can be able to promote communication and visitation with the absent parent and hope to be able to help facilitate better relationships with those parents. 

The youth groups are well attended and the staff will continue to grow the groups through outreach and emphasize consistent attendance so that staff can build relationships instead of constantly trying to start new ones. Caregiver breakout sessions are slated to commence in January of 2019. These will allow the parents a safe place to talk away from their children. While the Active Parenting Curriculum will be utilized, the staff also hope parents and caregivers will get to know each other and build a support system. 

Who We Serve

The prioritized indicator is Juvenile Felony Offenses. 

How We Impact

Governor Larry Hogan is prioritized this result to help communities become safe for children, youth, & families. 

Program Summary

A multi-system approach creating programs and resources for parents and children impacted by incarceration. Support groups for children and non-incarcerated caregivers, referrals to navigation services and facilitation of child/incarcerated parent communication are all included with the intention of reducing inter-generational poverty.

Target Population

Families impacted by incarceration.

Governor's Strategic Goal

Reduce the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children, Families, and Communities. 

Local Highlight

FY19: Last quarter, Big Hope Network youth group facilitators sensed a lot of anger and reluctance to express “negative” feelings towards caregivers. To address this, opportunities were created for the children to freely share without judgement which had positive results. As we began to peel back the layers of anger, we uncovered their feelings of powerlessness in the face of adult decisions about their lives and their inability to feel deserving of good things. The purpose of the activities for the rest of the quarter was to help the children express and celebrate what is beautiful and unique about themselves. The children created a photo book that captured their lives and what they were proud of. One student even took the opportunity to express and celebrate her identification with the LGBTQ community. Throughout the photo book process, case managers talked about the children’s ability to choose for themselves within boundaries. The goal of the exercises and end of the year celebration was to lay a foundation for the children to build positive self-worth, develop coping mechanisms through yoga and breathing, and improve self-esteem.

The caregiver group continued to be a positive and supportive outlet for adults. Discussions focused on discipline, discussing incarceration with the child and other daily challenges. Our youth group leader was also cross trained in the Active Parenting Program which is the source of practical guidance for caregiver group, in addition to discussions about what has worked in the past, and ideas for the future. In addition to the daily challenges in raising children alone, caregivers expressed a lack of time for self-care, adult socialization and time without stress. Therefore, the end of the year provided caregivers with a free of charge paint night which allowed them to relax, socialize and have dinner while knowing their children were safe and cared for right downstairs. Staff also attended a panel discussion at BBBSA’s National Conference about Returning Citizens and Juvenile Justice. This panel discussed, not only youth incarceration, but also re-entry to the community. This panel took place during a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion summit so it directly related to the populations that we serve in Big Hope Network as well.

Data Discussion

FY19 Annual Demographics: 
90% African American
.02% White
.10% Bi-Racial or Hispanic
52% Boys
47% Girls


The FY18 Vendor for Project SEEK is Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore. They were awarded the contract in December 2017, however did not implement the program until March/April 2018, due to the program being revamped. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore will not have HY1 data but will have HY2 data for fiscal year 2018.

 

Project SEEK is a mentoring program designed for children that are impacted by incarceration. Support Groups are held for children and caregivers.

 

The contract was awarded to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore in December 2017. Due to the revamp of the program and training, the program did not get up and running until March/April 2018. So only 2018 Half Year 2 data is available. 

Measurement Tool Used

FY19 Annual: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore continues to utilize sign in sheets for documentation of attendance of new and reoccurring clients being served. Case management notes are created to document and track the needs of individual families as well as highlight the need for referrals. We have consent forms signed for staff to obtain report cards from schools to track educational progress and these will be checked at the end of each quarter. Quarterly, we give each child a reflection survey that they fill out anonymously. This allows them to express their wishes or concerns about the program to staff. Evaluation surveys are completed with the caregivers every couple months to see the child’s developmental progress throughout the course of the program. Files are kept on all clients as well as case management notes.


Sign in sheets used for documentation of attendance of new and reoccurring clients being served. Case management notes are created to document and track the needs of individual families as well as highlight the need for referrals. The program has consent forms signed by parents/caregivers that allow staff to obtain report cards from schools to track educational progress and these will be checked at the end of each quarter. At the conclusion of each session, the staff give each child a reflection survey that they can fill out anonymously. This allows the child to express their wishes or concerns about the program to staff. Evaluation surveys are completed every couple months to see the child's developmental progrress throughout the course of the program. Files are kept on all clients as well as case management notes.  

Measures
Time
Period
Current Actual Value
Current Target Value
Current
Trend
Baseline
% Change
PM
FY 2020
181
2
965%
Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy