Research indicates prisons and community agencies should provide parenting classes for inmates while they are incarcerated and when they are released to support reunification with children and family members in a safe and appropriate way. Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) are the most basic and long-lasting cause of health risk behaviors, mental illness, social malfunction, disability, medical disease, death, health care and social costs. The ACE study provides both a retrospective and prospective analysis of the effects of 10 categories of adverse life experiences in childhood. The 10 experiences include physical, emotional or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; a parent with mental illness, substance dependence, or history of incarceration; domestic violence; or parent separation/divorce. Data from 2015 shows there are 947 individuals incarcerated and 2,012 individuals under parole and probation in Harford County. In Maryland, 15% of children have experienced two or more adverse experiences from 2015-2016 compared to the country at 22%. Caregivers and children affected by parental incarceration experience more trauma than other families. Strengthening the relationship between the incarcerated parent and child can improve the child's well-being by reducing anxiety, feelings of abandonment, mental health issues, and improve behavior and academic performance in school.
For FY19, HCAA faced low completion numbers for both community participants and the detention center inmates. The detention center low completion rates are attributed to 3 main reasons: 1) the inmates are released before the class ends 2) the inmates get in trouble (or someone in their dorm gets in trouble so they are lockdown) and/or 3) they come to one class and they simply do not like the content of the class so they do not return. We work very closely with the Re-Entry Coordinator as well as the Programs Manager in the detention center to assist us with vetting inmates serious about completing the class. Beginning FY20, as an incentive, inmates will receive 2 days off of their sentences if they complete our class.
In the community there are many reasons as to why there are low completion rates, some include but are not limited to: 1) transportation issues 2) class is held during business/work hours 3) daycare provider shortage and/or 4) the length of the PIO Community Curriculum. The reasons listed above are the issues we have come across when trying to hold a class in our office. We partnered with the WAGE Connection in Aberdeen towards the end of FY18 because those students are mandated to take a variety of classes, and PIO was an interesting subject to throw into the mix. We have had success with participation, but completion was low because the students either get jobs or have family obligations that must be taken care of.