The Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation “The Best Start for Families-A Health Equity Approach” Program Report on Justice-Involved Parents 2019
By Kimberly A. Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D., Kristin Gilbertson, M.S.W, Amy Eccher, M.S. Statistics
In 2019, the Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation has been fortunate to have found new partners in Kane County Sheriff Ronald Hain and in DOC Transition Center Director Margarita Mendoza.
Over 300 detainees and inmates have benefited through participation in “The Best Start-A Health Equity Approach,” based on the International Child/Parenting Development Program between 2015-2019.
Important to note: nearly two-thirds received certificates, meaning attending 70% or 7 of the 10 sessions. When we were introduced to our first group, in 2015, the KC Adult Justice Center (AJC) staff told
us, “Don’t expect any appreciation or gratitude for your efforts in delivering the program.” We have enjoyed a completely opposite response. We have delivered 20 Parenting Learning Groups/Family Life Skills, as well as 5 one-time Holiday Cafe Discussion Groups. And the feedback we have most often heard is “Thank you for….”
Most often, it is appreciation that CCWF facilitators have entered into the world of these parents and grandparents, accepting them despite the mistakes they have made, and seeing the best in them for signing up for “The Best Start” program. That takes courage in a place where everyone needs to adopt a hard, brave or indifferent persona in order to get through each day. Our participants come to rely on us to treat them with respect, to encourage them to work to strengthen or rebuild family relationships, and to recognize their love for their family at a time when they feel they have failed them irreparably. We help them to have hope, and to build on that hope – that with commitment and improved skills, they can become the parents and family members they have wanted to be, but maybe never believed they could.
This 2019 report reflects our most recent 8 projects at the Kane County AJC, and presents information from several perspectives – from the AJC/DOC leadership, the CCWF Lead Facilitator and from the detainees and inmates themselves.
The evaluation results reveal a valuable insight. The level of self-reported capacity and parental efficacy of Justice-Involved caregivers was often so much lower than Non-Justice involved caregivers, that even when Justice-involved reported a higher rate of improvement, they still only measured up to the level at which non-Justice involved caregivers began. We know that many had violent, negative or a complete lack of positive parenting in their past. Still, that is how equity begins….. It brings people, parents to where they need to be in order for their children to grow up with fewer adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and with greater resiliency and capacity to aspire to a different opportunity for life!
We believe in people and the effectiveness of two-generational support to disrupt the intergenerational cycle and transmission of disappointment, desperation and failure which brings so many into the system, and causes them to return again and again.
When we consider that everyone deserves a right to nurturing, caring relationships, safe home and communities, positive mental and physical health, academic success and ultimately economic opportunity and stability, we recognize that it all begins with the protective factor of loving parent models, and safe home, school and community environments. We can do this.
Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation & Founder, “ICDP-USA: The Best Start for Families-A Health Equity Approach,” 411 Stevens Street, Geneva, IL 60134 / www.changingchildrensworlds.org
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