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helping inmates with children transition back into society

October 28, 2015

UW team to lead research efforts on initiative for incarcerated parents  

The University of Washington will play a key role in a new initiative aimed at helping inmates with children transition back into society, be successful parents and partners and remain out of prison.

Partners for Our Children, a UW School of Social Work center that works to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families in Washington state, will conduct research and evaluate programs offered under the five-year, $7.5 million initiative.

“Incarceration doesn’t just impact offenders. It has deep impacts on their children too,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a release. “Helping these parents build and maintain a bond with their child can change the course of their lives for the better.”

The Washington Department of Corrections received funding for the initiative from the federal Administration for Children and Families. The effort will bring together a variety of services, including parenting courses before and after release from prison, video and in-person family visits, courses on developing and maintaining healthy relationships with a spouse or partner, and family counseling. Participants will also take a job-search skills program before being released, and outreach workers will help connect them with employment and education services outside of prison.

Mark Eddy, director of research at Partners for our Children, said many inmates face a host of challenges upon release, including finding a place to live, landing a job and reconnecting with family, as well as avoiding substance use and friends involved in crime. An estimated 60 to 70 percent are parents, he said, and may have had little contact with their children while in prison.

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