The Parental Intervention Project is a multi-faceted program aimed at improving the well-being and outcome of justice-involved mothers and fathers and their children. Created in 2009 as a collaboration between California State University, San Bernardino and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the program focuses on parenting education, trauma recovery, parent-child interaction time, and individual counseling/case management. Classes, groups, and individual work are offered to justice-involved individuals while in custody at correctional facilities and upon reentry through community partnerships throughout San Bernardino County.
The in-custody Trauma Recovery and Family Relations class is a 48-hour, attachment-based psychotherapeutic parent education course which is conducted on a monthly basis for justice-involved mothers and fathers at three of the four San Bernardino County jails. Classes are taught by clinical counseling and MSW interns who are under the supervision of clinical staff. The class is based on substantial documentation in the literature on the pivotal influence of attachment, family stability, and positive parenting practices on children’s well-being and healthy outcomes (as well as on reducing delinquency and incarceration), and the most current research on child development, which has as its centerpiece the critical importance of warm, sensitively attuned, responsive caregiving for the optimal development and well-being of children. Pre- and post-class assessments of parent knowledge and skills as well as feelings of competence and satisfaction are routinely conducted.
The TALK (Teaching and Loving Kids) program: Children aged 13 and under have the opportunity to visit their in-custody, justice-involved mothers and fathers on a weekly basis in a special evening program where volunteer student interns from CSUSB (who have participated in weekly on-campus trainings in positive child guidance and child development) set up “play stations” and assist parents and children as they read, play, and interact. Parents are encouraged to implement some of the parenting skills learned in the parenting class (e.g., active listening, validating their children’s feelings), and the supervising clinical intern uses these occasions to affirm the parents whenever they (or the student interns) observes the mothers/fathers implementing the positive parenting practices.
In the Trauma Recovery and Family Relations classes (a prerequisite for TALK), parents learn that reading aloud to children has myriad benefits. Studies show that one such benefit for children whose parents consistently read to them is that they are the most likely to perform the best, achieve the most, and reach the highest levels of education over time. Additionally, book reading also calms children by providing a warm and nurturing experience in which they receive their parent’s full attention.
Floortime is a strategy learned in the Trauma Recovery and Family Relations classes, which refers to a special period of unstructured, uninterrupted time. Floortime teaches parents to follow the child’s lead, stimulates creativity, and encourages warm, trusting, and emotionally close parent/child relationships.