Early Intervention for Children of Incarcerated Parents

Early Intervention for Children of Incarcerated Parents

An early intervention program, located in Chicago's North Lawndale community and in southern Illinois has been successfully piloted in the past few years, serves children of incarcerated parents. Utilizing a Multi-Family Group format, the 14-week curriculum of Strengthening Families for the Future Program designed for at risk families is employed to reconstruct relationships within the families. The program also provides case management, mentoring, and individual/family therapy. Referrals to the program come from local elementary schools, social service agencies, Cook County Jail, and the state's corrections system.

An eclectic approach to treatment is used that views the families from a systemic perspective. The overarching goal is to interrupt risk pathways that contribute to emotional and behavioral problems experienced by children of incarcerated parents in the parent ( i.e.,. substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, inadequate education), and those in the family structure (i.e., single parent households, poverty, changes in residence, multiple caregivers and inadequate care), continued to drive the approach to service intervention. Services are mostly offered in the home versus the usual office based treatment milieu. Interventions are based on cognitive behavioral therapy and structural family therapy theories. Additional services include: a) tutoring; b) case management; and c) therapy. These various services were offered to the entire family instead of a single child.