Mother’s Day is one of the most challenging days for women prisoners at Grand Valley Institution. Many of the up to 215 inmates are also mothers missing their kids.
More than 75% of those incarcerated in the facility are mothers. And more than 50% of were the primary supporters and caregivers to their children upon their imprisonment.
Mother-Child Program for women prisoners prisoners
The mother-child program was started at the prison to do whatever necessary to support the incarcerated women as mothers.
During the recent Mother’s Day event children of incarcerated mothers created some artistic works to show support and love to their moms.
As Professor Patrice Butts puts it, in most cases, when we imprison a woman, we unknowingly sentence their children as well.
Butts is the Grand Valley Institution’s coordinator of the mother-child program. She adds that just because a female has committed some crime that doesn’t mean she that is not a good mother.
Studies have shown that women prisoners having little opportunities to get involved in the lives of their kids is incredibly healing and helpful to incarcerated mothers and their children.
The Roles of The Mother-Child Program for women prisoners.
Mother-child program also extends its support to offering prenatal and postnatal assistance to the pregnant mothers arriving at the prison facility. The plan:
- Helps in delivering breast milk which the incarcerated mothers pump for their infants.
- It also facilitates Child Link. Child Link is an arrangement that enables children and their mothers to stay bonded via video conferencing, more so where visits and phone calls are costly.
- At times, it facilitates residential visits.
During the residential visits, several activities take place, including:
- Kids under 5-years-old are allowed to stay full-time at the prison with their mothers.
- Children under the age of eight can only stay part-time with the incarcerated mothers.
- The Older children can visit their imprisoned moms during the weekend, at the facility’s family visiting unit.
Although incarcerated mothers in the correctional facility can phone home anytime, visual communication is very critical in terms of facilitating mother-child bond. So Child Link enables poor women to have video chats with their kids.
At any time, Grand Valley usually has about three to four kids living in prison with their mothers. All this is the courtesy of Mother-child program.
However, the program is highly discriminative. It’s limited to the women classed at medium or minimum security.
To get these privileges, women in the groups mentioned above must undergo several psychological assessments and take parenting and first aid courses.
Butts says, helping the children and mothers stay connected has got many benefits. Some of the benefits include:
- Mothers usually have the opportunity to learn better parenting skills.
- Families get comparatively stronger bonds whenever the women leave the prison.
Is Mother-Child Program Relevant To Inmates At Grand Valley?
(Almost 40% of the inmates at Grand Valley were served less than 3-years sentences.)
Also, facilitating mother-child bond has got both psychological and practical benefits, such as minimizing the pressure on the children welfare system.
About 180 people registered for the 3-day conference, which included external speakers coming from as far as from Newfoundland and Vancouver.