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This SIG discusses the issues facing female offenders in the criminal justice system with an emphasis on educational issues for this growing offender population. 
Snowmen and Birthday Parties
Date: November 03, 2009 10:41PM

Snowmen and Birthday Parties . . .
Part of a daylong visit for inmate mothers and their children at Taycheedah Correctional Institution

Located on the scenic grounds of Taycheedah (Wisconsin) Correctional Institution, the Homestead House is the oldest surviving structure in Fond du Lac County. The house was built in 1838 as a home for Governor James D. Doty. Presently, this house provides a homelike setting for day-long visits.

Extended visitation is offered once a month to inmates who have completed the Positive Parenting Class. Inmates complete an application and after a social worker’s approval of the application, the offender signs up for a date. The inmates are responsible for contacting the caregiver to make arrangements for their children’s arrival on the designated date. A small number of inmates and their children are present at one time.

The inmate is responsible for planning the activities for the day. The mothers prepare lunch for their children and plan activities to engage in with their children. One highlight for the mom is having the child around for his or her birthday. Mom and child make and bake a cake for the child’s birthday. Everyone, staff and other families at the Homestead, join in the celebration. Other favorite activities are helping the children with their homework and jointly completing projects that can go home with the child.

Thanks to the donations from various organizations, the Homestead has a supply of games that children and their moms can play together. Sometimes, moms and the children sit and talk on the comfortable couches that are available throughout the house. Books, along with a comfortable chair, are available for all ages in the library room. The closets contain sleds, jump ropes, and sidewalk chalk for outdoor play as well as the Christmas tree. Interactive activities are encouraged. Offenders are responsible for supervising their children: however; two staff members are always present if help or intervention is needed.

It is not all fun and games. Inmates and their children also plant a garden and harvest the vegetables. They are also responsible for cleaning the facility before they leave.

Many staff members work together to make the program possible. Administrative, professional and correctional staff all support and contribute to the coordination of mother/child activities for the visit.

Extended visits help inmates maintain family connections and provide bonding opportunities between mothers and children. Mothers and children can share thoughts and feelings, listen to each other, and spend quality time together in a pleasant home-like setting. They can send their children home with both tangible memories and shared experiences.
by: Bonnie Ramaker,Taycheedah Correctional Institution

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