The Silent Sentence: Families of Promise A Catholic Charities & Lake ADAMHS Board Programdschick@lakeadamhs.org
Contact: David Schick
The Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Menth Health Services (ADAMHS) Board
July 25, 2023
The Silent Sentence: Families of Promise
A Catholic Charities & Lake ADAMHS Board Program
Lake County, OH: Children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system face a host of challenges and difficulties: psychological strain, foster care placement, suspension or expulsion from school, economic hardship, or potential for criminal activity. This Silent Sentence phrase above describes how children and their caregivers are left behind as a result of the parent‘s incarceration. Catholic Charities’ Families of Promise program provides help and hope with supports and services to regain stability.
These non-traditional families, especially the children, often feel stigma about their situations. This alone can be a large burden to carry and could lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, behavioral challenges, low educational attainment or even inception of criminal activity. It is difficult to predict how a child will fare when a parent is incarcerated, and research findings from the U.S. Department of Justice show 70% of these children are fated to follow in the same footsteps as their parents. In fact, children of incarcerated parents are 6X more likely than their peers to commit crimes, said a Temple University study. The Families of Promise program was designed to prevent a family cycle of incarceration.
Families of Promise was a conception of local leaders recognizing an unmet need in our community. In 2008 Catholic Charities together with Torchlight Youth Mentoring (formerly Big Brothers Big Sister Lake County) developed the program collaboratively with the aim of surrounding the families with adequate supports and services to prevent a criminal cycle from continuing. Guided by Catholic Charities this program is locally funded by the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board and it has become a respected model in the region.
Families of Promise works with children up to age 18 who have a parent who is currently or was previously incarcerated, as well as with the adults responsible for their care. The first priority is to help the non-incarcerated parent or caregiver feel supported and help them deal effectively with immediate issues, such as housing, finances, employment, and the children’s safety and well-being. In addition to comprehensive case management services, adults in the program may also elect to take part in evidence-based parenting curriculums – Parent Café or Triple P, Positive Parenting Program.
Many of the youth are now cared for by their grandparents, who may find the challenges of raising children significantly different than when they raised their own children. These grandparents or other caregivers are thrust back into being a primary caregiver again and they may not have planned for this financial, social, and time commitment at this stage of their lives. The program guides them with case management services that begins by assessing all their needs. Services provided are flexible and responsive to the needs identified. Service can include connection with financial resources, counseling services or other community resources. Services can also include guidance on parenting strategies, help with technology such as school on-line accounts or on-line safety education, informing caregivers about the impacts of trauma and much more.
This NO COST program utilizes federal Medicaid (when available) and local ADAMHS board funding to cover all costs. “We noticed this unserved population was falling through the cracks. These children are carrying the weight of their parent’s sentence on their shoulders. They weren’t acting like kids. We have the resources here at the ADAMHS Board to fund a unique program for Lake County that is a model for others with positive support, counseling and stability,” said Kim Fraser, Executive Director of the Lake ADAMHS Board.
The strength of the Families of Promise program is the linkage of agencies that can quickly pinpoint resources available to children and especially caregivers. “The program is critical for this at-risk population, and as prevention practitioners we develop strong partnerships with law enforcement, public schools, and child welfare agencies to understand the unique dynamics of the family in question and try to ensure a safety net for the child and successful re-entry for the incarcerated parent,” said Senta Kline Program Coordinator for Families of Promise. We interviewed a participant from the Grandparent’s Social Group, she stated “their support has made a big difference to my granddaughter. The social aspect of (my granddaughter) being able to meet peers that are also going through the same things has really provided her perspective. I see the good of the program, how it affects her, and she sees Senta (Kline) as part of our family that supports and cares for her deeply.”
For more information about Families of Promise contact the Catholic Charities Lake County office of highly trained staff that will provide guidance to help you navigate life’s challenges. They will work with you on ways to overcome difficulties in a safe, confidential, and objective space.
About the Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland
Providing Help. Creating Hope. Serving All.
About the Lake County ADAMHS Board
The Lake County ADAMHS Board plans, funds, monitors, and evaluates services available to residents who are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. For more information, please visit www.HelpThatWorks.us.
The photo attached is owned and able to be used for media. Photo credit David Schick from Lake ADAMHS.