As the incidence of maternal incarceration has increased, a growing number of children have been affected by separation from their mothers and consequent disruptions to family life. Children of incarcerated parents (CIPs) often experience high levels of stress and unstable home lives, and are at risk for negative social and behavioral outcomes. Also, their caregivers are typically overburdened and often have few resources to help. Changes in care-taking roles and responsibilities, changes in schools and residences, and financial strains place additional stress upon families affected by incarceration.
To address these challenges, Motherly Intercession, Inc., a community-based organization in Flint, Michigan, provides academic and social-emotional programs for CIPs, their parents, and their current caregivers in Genesee County, Michigan. Strengthening Incarcerated Families is a collaborative project with the Prevention Research Center of Michigan and includes two interventions:
Strengthening Families Program (SFP): Promotes family support and socio-emotional growth among CIPs through 16-weeks of sessions designed to develop the bonds between caregivers and children, and group leaders from the community
Parenting While Incarcerated (PWI): Allows incarcerated mothers to provide parenting support to enrich the lives of their children from afar through an 8-week curriculum of group sessions held at the jail
We found that families who participated in the program reported improved family communication and organization; caregivers reported using positive parenting strategies more frequently, and also reported fewer depression symptoms, after participating in the intervention.
Miller, A. L., Weston, L. E., Perryman, J., Horwitz, T., Franzen, S., & Cochran, S. (2014). Parenting While Incarcerated: Tailoring the Strengthening Families Program for use with jailed mothers. Children and Youth Services Review, 44(0), 163–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.06.013
Miller, A. L., Krusky, A. M., Franzen, S., Cochran, S., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2012). Partnering to translate evidence-based programs to community settings: bridging the gap between research and practice. Health Promot Pract, 13(4), 559–566. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524839912438749
Brickey, T., Lied, D., Cochran, S., & Miller, A. L. (2010, April). Implementing the Strengthening Families Program with children of incarcerated mothers: Can I pick from the prize box? Presented at the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Improving Children’s Health through Community-Engaged Research Conference, Ann Arbor, MI.
Brown, S., Ramsay, L. M., Cochran, S., & Miller, A. L. (2010, April). Empty promises and overworking the love: Thoughts from caregivers of children with incarcerated parents. Presented at the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Improving Children’s Health through Community-Engaged Research Conference, Ann Arbor, MI.
Norris, C., Foley, K., Cochran, S., & Miller, A. L. (2010, April). Overcoming obstacles: Implementing an evidence-based parenting program in correctional and community settings. Paper presented at the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR) Improving Children’s Health through Community-Engaged Research Conference, Ann Arbor, MI.
The Prevention Research Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health promotes safe and healthy futures through prevention research.
In partnership with local health departments, community organizations and health care providers, we aim to develop sustainable strategies for disease prevention and health promotion for families and communities.