PA Report on Children of Incarcerated Parents – Part 5 - Recommendations: Reentry & Reunification

on Tuesday - August 14, 2012.

The "Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children" report examined and made recommendations in four key areas in which children are impacted:

Arrests and Judicial Proceedings

Caregiver and Support Services

Family and Corrections Interaction

Reentry and Reunification

Here are the committee's recommendations related to Reentry and Reunification:

REENTRY AND REUNIFICATION PLANNING

• Reduce and eliminate post-incarceration penalties which hinder the ability of formerly incarcerated individuals to acquire housing, employment, and education.

  • Require providers of prison/jail job training, employment and education to continue services to the individual after reentering the community. Require all government-provided employment and housing programs to assess and serve formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.

• Establish community housing programs to support housing for offenders reentering communities and reuniting with their children and families.

• Develop policies requiring correctional institutions to notify Family Court and Children and Youth Services when an individual released is involved in a dependency case.

• Require that an individual released select persons to be notified.

• Re-establish a statewide reentry task force and encourage counties to promote and develop reentry initiatives within their current Criminal Justice Advisory Board committees.

• Establish and fund "Case Management" positions for reentry planning within each correctional facility.

• Where such programs/services are available, encourage and promote parenting education for those under community supervision.

• Encourage objective, evidence-based research on family-strengthening programs, conducted inside and outside the walls of correctional facilities, to measure the improvement of participants' parenting capacity and of family outcomes. Longitudinal studies should also be supported to measure not only the offending parent's recidivism, but also the child's interaction with the juvenile and criminal justice systems, when applicable.

• Continue and expand the use of innovative and collaborative programs and partnerships, including Parenting Universities through local intermediate units or school districts, and community and faith-based supervision, treatment and support services that serve as local resources and liaisons to the newly released parents and their children.

• Encourage the Department of Corrections, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and county correctional facilities to work with community providers that conduct parenting and related programs, create incentives for those agencies and community providers to work together, and make it easier for providers to have access to inmates and offenders supervised in the community.

Encourage judges and the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to include a parenting element for all parents enrolled in Reentry Programs and related programs, but not as a condition of treatment or graduation.

• Expand the use of pre-release and post-release group family conferencing as an effective means to facilitate successful reentry and re-establishment of family relationships. Make family group conferencing a part of parents' reentry plans for all families, including both those who are involved with the child welfare system and those who are not.

• Guarantee a continuity of case management when the inmate is transferred from the Department of Corrections to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, and plan in advance for the transition.

• When making arrangements for an incarcerated parent's reentry, the best interests of the child should always be a priority, and individualized plans should be developed dependent on what, if any, reunification services a particular child may need.

Previous article(s) in this series:

Part 1:http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-1

Part 2: http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-2

Part 3: http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-3

Part 4: http://www.lancastercountyreentry.org/item/pa-report-on-coip-part-4

The full 144-page report is available online here:

http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/resources/documents/ftp/documents/children%20of%20incarcerated%20parents.pdf