Do you serve incarcerated dads in a corrections facility in or near your community?
If not, I implore you to consider it.
Because corrections and corrections-related systems and facilities (e.g., reentry facilities) are facing a massive shortage of personnel, some of whom run rehabilitative programs.
I was made aware of this fact recently when I read the edition of the Community Impact newspaper that covers my community of Cedar Park, Texas. (Yep. I still read a printed newspaper! It’s incredibly informative, by the way.) I could hardly believe my eyes when I read that the sheriff’s office in the county where most of my community lies was looking to fill 62 of 256 corrections officer positions and the juvenile detention center was looking to fill 17 of 77 of all its positions. That’s nearly 25 percent of those positions combined. To attract applicants, the county is responding with significant raises in starting pay. The county is also raising pay for current employees to retain them.
Further, I learned that this shortage is an issue across Texas and nationwide. In some cases, the proportion of vacant positions is astronomical. Some corrections facilities in Georgia, for example, have more than a 70 percent vacancy rate. As is the case in my community, corrections systems have responded with raises in starting pay and pay raises for existing staff. While this tactic has helped, there are still many vacancies to fill.
According to many leaders in corrections, this shortage is the most significant operational issue they’re facing. That’s because it has so many negative consequences for staff and inmates, such as increased stress for staff who must work overtime, delayed services and deteriorating conditions for inmates, and increased tension between staff and inmates.
Another negative consequence is on the capacity for corrections staff to run rehabilitative programs, including fatherhood programs. At National Fatherhood Initiative®, we’ve seen a reduction in facilitation of our evidence-based InsideOut Dad® program by corrections staff, many of whom volunteer their time to facilitate it. Fortunately, many of our partners (e.g., community-based nonprofits and educational institutions) facilitate InsideOut Dad® in federal, state, and local corrections facilities. (Watch this inspiring video of a partner that facilitates the program in a local facility and this inspiring video of a partner that facilitates it in multiple state facilities.)
But we need more partners to expand their work to facilitate this life-changing program.
In response to this need, NFI recently secured a one-year grant from a private foundation to provide free curriculum materials, training, and technical assistance to 25 human service organizations to start facilitating InsideOut Dad®. Half-way through the grant period, these partners had served more than 400 fathers of more than 950 children combined. And we will continue to look for other opportunities to help more organizations expand their impact in this vital way.
Still, we can do only so much to make a dent in this need. I challenge you to frame meeting this need as an opportunity to expand your organization’s impact. I’m confident that you can tie your organization’s mission to serving incarcerated dads. If you’re struggling to see how, contact us. We’ll help you think it through.
To learn more about InsideOut Dad®, click here. You’ll find everything you need to assess whether the program is a good fit for your organization: a program overview, curriculum samples, research on its effectiveness, an ebook on delivering fatherhood programming in a corrections environment, and more.
Do you want to expand your organization’s impact?
How can you tie your organization’s mission to serving incarcerated dads?