Small-scale Pilot Interventions
Crossroads, Inc. and West Rock Housing Authority www.crossroadsrecoveryct.org/
Crossroads treatment facility, located in the West Rock section of New Haven, is a private, state-funded, non-profit agency providing residential and outpatient treatment. Crossroads is located in a public housing community overwhelmed by parental incarceration with little to no access to programming for youth. In an effort to offer the youth residents constructive programming, Crossroads decided to implement several free programs: karate, African dance and choir.
Although the programs are not specifically designed to address the unique needs of youth dealing with parental incarceration, the premise is 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. The IMRP began contracting with Crossroads in June of 2010. Since that time, Crossroads has provided services for dozens of children, youth and young adults.
Communities Inspiring Action: Youth of Incarcerated Parents (CIA:YIP)
The IMRP is collaborating 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, Court Support Services Division staff, several not-for-profit workers, Department of Children and Families employees, community liaisons from the Hartford Mayor's Office of Constituent Services and Hartford 2000 staff.
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.
This work began in August of 2009 and continues today. Throughout this initiative, several successful discussions have been held with participants from such diverse backgrounds as formerly incarcerated individuals to state representatives, police officers, business owners, teenagers and probation officers were held within Hartford neighborhoods. During these discussions the more specific needs of the community, in relation to children with incarcerated parents, were realized and attendees volunteered to create task forces to address these more specific concerns. The task force work is ongoing, with some of the most successful efforts to-date focusing on peer support groups and transportation to prison for family members.
Community Support Groups
Through the community dialogues hosted by CIA:YIP, the 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 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 volunteer’s motivation and effectiveness and offered her a part-time permanent position with the IMRP to allow her to continue, and expand, her outreach and community support efforts. Since that time, the monthly support groups have grown in terms of the number of participants as well as location and purposefulness. Office space has been donated by a church in the North End of Hartford allowing the work to continue in the community. The support group has started to invite guest speakers to provide information on topics of interest and relevance. In addition, other major urban areas in Connecticut have expressed interest in hosting monthly support groups in their communities. Negotiations continue with local not-for-profits to identify partners and locations that would provide the greatest access to persons who may benefit the most from such a neighborhood group.