Montana Women's Prison
Click here to read the May 13, 2012 Billings Gazette article about Family Tree Center's services at MWP
The Family Tree Center extends its mission to the children of incarcerated women through the innovative Parenting Program at Montana State Women's Prison. These families are experiencing one of the most stressful situations a family can undergo – separation from loved ones due to incarceration. The program is founded on the principle that building strong families will help prevent not only child abuse, but recidivism of the offender and future incarceration of the child. Research shows that children of moms and dads in prison are more likely themselves to be future inmates. By improving the family structure and bonds between members we hope to give them skills to make permanent change.
The MWP Parenting Program works towards this mission by providing several classes, groups, and support to the incarcerated family:
- Nurturing Parenting Classes – we offer two classes: one for mothers of Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers and one for mothers of Grade School Age Children and Adolescents. We teach the same curriculum as The Family Tree Center, with special emphasis on the challenges of parenting from a distance due to incarceration.
- Motheread® – this is an adult literacy class that uses children's literature to help build the reading skills of mom. The program uses quality children's books with themes of child development, independence, & family empowerment. At the end of the class each participant receives the opportunity to record the book on a CD that will be sent to their child.
- Journaling – women create a personalized journal for their children in this class. The journal tells of the mother and her life, her heartfelt and detailed memories of her child and her hopes and dreams for this child. It also covers the painful issue of leaving her child to come to prison.
- Grandma Group – we invite grandmas to join us for one hour a week for a discussion group that helps them understand their role in their grandkid's lives as well as the changing role of being a parent of adult children.
- Baby Support Groups – we offer two support groups: Pre-natal and Post-natal. Pre-natal supports pregnant women who are incarcerated at MWP by offering education on their pregnancy, assisting them with a caregiver plan when the baby is born, and labor coaching when their time arrives. Post-Natal is a support group that helps women returning to MWP following the birth of their child and addresses the grieving process associated with leaving their newborn with a caregiver.
- Kid's Day – this is a fun day that the MWP Parenting Program hosts once a month. Children are invited into the visiting area and allowed "alone time" with their mothers. We provide activities, crafts and treats for all who attend.
One-on-One visits – The parenting module is designed specifically to accommodate a family visit in private. Upon completion of the Nurturing Parenting Class, women become eligible for this privilege. Visits are typically two hours long and mothers and children have many games, age appropriate toys, and books available to them so they can spend true quality time together. The area has a small kitchen and many of the families who participate in one-on-one visits make small meals to share together.