Having a parent in jail or prison can impact a child in many ways, affecting their mental health, physical wellbeing, behavior, and education. Creating Healthy Bonds (CHB) provides supportive services for children and their caregivers that have been impacted by having a parent incarcerated. We also support parents incarcerated at the Montgomery County Correctional facility through parenting education and coaching and assist with reunification upon their release.
CHB is designed to provide support for children who have a parent in prison or jail. The impact on these children is clear as they deal with family instability, higher rates of child welfare involvement, and post-traumatic effects such as poor academic outcomes, hypervigilance and anxiety. To curb these effects, and foster strong, resilient children, we provide our services to these children, their caregivers, and their incarcerated or recently released parents. CHB strives to improve emotional and economic stability for these families, break the cycle of low academic performance, and improve family connections.
At CHB, we understand that having a parent incarcerated can be traumatic. Our experienced and compassionate counselors and case managers work hard connecting the children and families referred to us with services, resources, and support to minimize the impacts that having a parent imprisoned has on the family. We simultaneously serve children, their caregivers, and the parents that are incarcerated, yet each situation is unique, and we may provide services to all three in the same family, or may only reach one.
Our comprehensive services for all of those affected by having a parent incarcerated include:
- Individual and family counseling: A licensed clinical professional counselor provides trauma focused mental health counseling once a week for children ages 5-18 referred to us for services. The counselor meets the children in the community or at schools working with them on any presenting issue affecting their quality of life. Our counselors are trained in trauma-informed care and take time to ensure that they meet the individual needs of the children by developing identified treatment goals.
- Case management services: Our experienced case managers provide comprehensive services for both children and their caregivers (including family members or foster parents). Many of the families referred to us having children that are too young to benefit from our services so we work with their caregivers to ensure they receive needed resources. Following a referral, we conduct an assessment to determine what services and resources each family requires and what will help the children succeed. Support includes anything from referrals for medical needs, sports activities, help with homework, advocating for IEPs, housing referrals, employment referrals, food and clothing assistance, and more.
- Recreational activities: We know it is important for our children to have fun and to connect with others who are dealing with similar circumstances. We periodically bring the children together for recreation activities such as trips to SkyZone, bowling, or even a hike to Great Falls. All of these activities are free and we provide transportation.
- Family support nights: Once a month we bring families together so they can connect and support each other. We order pizza, play games, and discuss what ever topics the families want to discuss. These events also allow us to celebrate special occasions and during these events we can distribute food for Thanksgiving and gifts for Christmas to ensure our families have a great holiday season or let the kids “shop” for supplies for Back to School.
- Parenting support groups: We conduct a weekly Parenting Group for male and female population at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Many of the participants in theses group have children who are our clients, but this is not a requirement. We discuss topics such as Parenting from Prison, positive discipline, child development, reunification concerns, and more. We also provide support during these meetings through activities such as crafts and journaling.
- Reunification services: If we have connected with family members in the community of the women in our Parenting Group, we help the mothers prepare for their release and potential reunification with their children. We give them resources and information about employment options, lawyers, and we invite them to join in on mental health counseling sessions with their children.
Children and families of incarcerated parents remains an underserved population, and we hope that through these programs, we can make a difference in these children’s lives and those caring for them. For more information, please call 240-672-8056.
Clients are referred to Creating Healthy Bonds from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, Montgomery County Public Schools, and other community agencies throughout Montgomery County.
Parents do not have to be incarcerated in Montgomery County for children to receive services.