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The Transition / Re-Entry SIG Is dedicated to providing support to individuals preparing incarcerated and detained individuals to return to become productive members of their communities . Transitional professionals help prepare Transition Plans with their clients, including preparation for career development, continuing education, housing and participation in community services.  
Easing the Transition to Parent and Partner
Date: November 17, 2010 12:01PM

Easing the Transition to Parent and Partner

Redgranite (Wisconsin) Correctional Institution Chaplain Deborah Mejchar and Wisconsin Resource Center Human Services Program Coordinator Tamra Oman teamed to create the Home Program at the Redgranite Correctional Institution to help offenders transition from an incarcerated person to a parent and partner in the community.

The Home Program allows participants to discuss their concerns, build on the positive, and plan for a more successful future for their families. Many offenders and family members are not prepared for this process. They all have ideas of “what it will be like,” but they hardly know each other after a long period of absence. This program is geared towards developing a realistic idea of what is to come and what the individual’s responsibilities are.

The program designed by Deborah and Tamra assists offenders and their family members in having a healthy, effective, and realistic approach during the transition period from incarceration to freedom. Its focus is to develop skills in communication, celebrate family and community, and provide informational resources. In doing so, the Home Program attempts to offer an opportunity for higher success rates, to reduce recidivism, and to break the cycle of familial incarceration. The goals of the program are to gain knowledge of what to expect, address concerns, gain helpful tools, and gather resources and information to continue the momentum of becoming a healthy family after release.

The Home Program consists of three sessions per group of participants:

Session 1: Getting to know one another, sharing past family celebrations, future ideas, and identifying concerns
• Icebreaker exercise
• Sharing favorite family memories
• Sharing things to look forward to
• Identifying and addressing concerns
• Debriefing: questions, answers, and educational materials

Session 2: Celebrating cultural diversity and sharing learning opportunities
• Icebreaker exercise
• Familial diversity celebration and family enhancement rotation (Each family rotates every 15 minute to experience various games, story telling, music, speakers, etc…)
• Family time to discuss and share what they learned and what they appreciate about their family heritage or newfound understanding.
• Sharing with the larger group their experiences
• Debriefing: questions, answers, and educational materials

Session 3: Role playing and brainstorming previously identified concerns
• Icebreaker exercise
• Role playing assignments and preparation
• Role plays, participant brainstorming, and developing collective solutions
• Each family group shares something they learned, enjoyed, and will attempt to apply
• Debriefing: questions, answers, educational materials, and presentation of certificates of participation

Each session is designed to be fun and exciting. Participants are asked to share good, bad memories and family experiences and what they are looking forward to.

Participants learn that it is so important for people in relationships, regardless of the definition, to identify areas that they appreciate in themselves, their partner, their children, and their family members, as well as, identifying areas of concern. In order to state their feelings, offenders learn that their feelings must be honestly and realistically identified. Then their concerns and feelings need to be expressed in a manner that is not blaming or offensive. In order to do this, each person has to be aware of what they value most, what they are willing to compromise, and how to share their ideas, thoughts, and feelings in a healthy manner. Reintegration is a complex, diverse, and exciting opportunity that is often easier said then done.

In order to be successful at reintegration, participants set specific goals. Identifying these areas of concern and finding out how or what got them to this point in their lives helps participants prepare a plan of action to have the life they deserve and desire to have. Participants work together to anticipate problems and develop effective solutions.

For more information about the Home Program contact deborah.mejchar@wisconsin.gov .

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