Originally published on dartmouth.theweektoday.com.
The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that it was recently awarded more than $700,000 in grant funding from the federal government for a three-year expansion of its True Course youth outreach program.
The program, which was created by Sheriff Thomas Hodgson in 2017, addresses the family dynamic head on, focusing services on inmates and their children to reduce recidivism, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Studies show that the children of incarcerated parents are about six times more likely to be incarcerated themselves,” Hodgson said. “This new initiative will keep kids on the path to prosperity, and give their incarcerated parents a leg up on success upon being released.”
As part of the grant expansion, parent inmates will be identified at intake and will meet with a facilitator to discuss the program and its benefits to them and their children. They will also meet weekly with other inmates in the program for a support group.
According to the sheriff’s office, True Course staff will work closely with the child’s family or guardian, who will approve all interactions with the incarcerated parent.
The facilitator will meet with parents each week to provide feedback on the child’s progress and provide any letters, videos, photos or other materials the child wishes to share.
Additionally, the sheriff’s office said it plans to offer in-person contact visitation between the child, parent and caregiver for participants, if signed off on by all involved parties.
Following release from jail, parents will participate in the Cognitive Life Skills program, a two-tiered parenting program developed by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.
The grant also allows the Sheriff’s Office to expand existing partnerships with the Family Resource Centers throughout Bristol County.
True Course will also work with UMass Dartmouth on data collection and analytics on the efficacy of the program.
“The expansion of True Course to focus on inmates who have children is just another avenue we can take to reduce recidivism,” Hodgson said. “Keeping these incarcerated parents active in their child’s lives while also helping them develop better parenting skills will help these families heal and succeed following incarceration.”