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Donation Helps Parenting Skills Program Reach More Inmates

by Cheryl Cadue last modified Jul 07, 2015 02:26 PM
Well-known for his support of prison private industries, Kansas businessman Fred Braun has turned his sights on helping Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) inmates become better parents.
Donation Helps Parenting Skills Program Reach More Inmates

Newly trained KDOC staff members in the Parents Inside Out (PIO) program will be part of expanding the program to more Kansas correctional facilities.

Braun, who started the first inmate work program at Lansing Correctional Facility in 1979, recently donated $10,000 to certify Kansas Department of Corrections staff member Erika Nilles-Plumlee as a trainer for the Parenting Inside Out (PIO) program. The evidence-based parenting skills training program already had been utilized at Topeka and Lansing correctional facilities with high-risk inmates.

Nilles-Plumlee, a family service coordinator in re-entry, is now able to train KDOC staff as PIO facilitators. Seven KDOC staff members participated in Nilles-Plumlee’s class last week and another class will be offered later this year to extend the program to other KDOC correctional facilities.

Nilles-Plumlee said Braun’s donation ensures the KDOC can continue operating the successful program that originated as an initiative in the State of Oregon. The program’s goal is to break the cycle of recidivism and inter-generational criminality.

“Family members speak highly of this program and often express their gratitude regarding their loved one’s participation,” Nilles-Plumlee said.

Research indicates that children of inmates are at greater risk for future incarceration as well other problems ranging from having difficulty in school, increased rates of mental and emotional issues and substance abuse. The offenders themselves also do significantly better once released from prison if they have established healthy family connections prior to their release.

For inmates, the PIO program combines classroom skill building with real-life situations. Aside from taking part in role-playing activities, program participants work one-on-one with parenting coaches. The coaches are able to individualize the program to each parent’s family by offering immediate coaching and guidance at child-centered events and by providing inmates feedback after their visits or phone calls with their child or the child’s caregiver.

The program came to Kansas in 2009 through an effort by the Oregon-based Children’s Justice Alliance (CJA). As the program’s designers, CJA wanted to implement the program in correctional facilities outside the state of Oregon.

CJA had offered a discount on the program’s curriculum and Braun, who is a CJA board member, provided monetary donations that enabled the Department of Corrections to implement the program. Prior to his most recent donation, Braun had donated $1,700 directly to the Department of Corrections to enable two staff members to travel to Oregon to receive training and provided another large donation to have the trainer from Oregon come to Kansas to train 10 more KDOC staff members.

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