The Talbot County Department of Social Services (DSS) Young Fathers/Non-Custodial Parents Employment Program launched the Inside Out Dad curriculum through its outreach with the Talbot County Department of Corrections. Initiated in 2010, this program teaches employment readiness, financial management, and personal effectiveness.
According to Tom Wardrop, Outreach Facilitator and Mentor, Talbot County Department of Social Services, “Based on about 15,000 inmates released from the Maryland Department of Corrections per year, one half of these individuals are back in prison within three years and 20 percent are reincarcerated within three months.” He adds, “If inmates start taking advantage of the programs available to them in prison to change their behavior, their chances increase dramatically for a successful re-entry into society.”
Over the last two years, 45 fathers have participated in the program, which included 11 modules with 12 classes in each module. As a result of the program, several fathers requested that a Re-Entry Support Group be formed to provide them with support re-entering the community. The group called IF (Inspire Fatherhood), launched with four core members, was honored for their commitment during an awards ceremony at the Department of Social Services.
Doug Devenyns, Director of the Talbot County Department of Corrections, echoes Wardrop’s comments, adding, “We want to create opportunities for men and women not to look at jail as a low spot, but rather as a starting place for the ‘correcting’ to happen.”
Talbot County’s unique Re-Entry Support Group is an extension of the Inside Out Dad Program and was created after fathers leaving prison requested additional support in their journeys back to their families and the community. Membership in the Re-Entry Support Group requires that the dads participate in the Inside Out Dad Program while incarcerated, attend two consecutive meetings of the Support Group, remain drug and alcohol free, be employed or enrolled in school full time, have no subsequent criminal charges, and attempt to engage in the lives of their children. In addition to its regular meetings, the Support Group has held family-centered events.
Wardrop states, “This group supports the personal growth of its members and their children and will ultimately promote the growth and development of other fathers released from prison. Although society often focuses on the cost of incarceration, which is estimated at about $40,000 a year per inmate, the real cost is the fatherless family which ends up at the poverty level afterwards.”
Deborah Short, Talbot County Department of Social Services Advisory Board Member and director of Building African American Minds (BAAM), commended the men on their accomplishments, stating, “You are dads making a difference. If ever you think you aren’t, take a look in the rearview mirror at your kids!”
Emily Joiner, Program Coordinator of the Young Fathers/Non-Custodial Parents Employment Program, presented the certificates of recognition and pins to the four core Support Group members, Vincent Bratcher, Dewayne Camper, James Carter, III, and Quartez Roberts for each of their milestones with the Support Group.
Vincent Bratcher summed up the group’s experience with IF group in his remarks by saying, “I wasn’t taking responsibility for my family and I was neglecting my obligations. The Fatherhood Program provided me with the tools I needed and gave me a new start. I am finally proud of myself.”
For further information about the Talbot County Child Support Program or Young Father’s/Non-Custodial Parent Employment Program, contact Dawn Coleman, Child Support Supervisor, Talbot County Department of Social Services at 410-770-4848.
In photo: Pictured back row, left to right, are Tom Wardrop, Outreach Facilitator and Mentor, Talbot County Department of Social Services (DSS); Dawn Coleman, Child Support Supervisor for the Talbot County DSS; Captain Leon Tillman, Programs Director, Talbot County Department of Corrections; Emily Joiner, Program Coordinator of the Young Fathers/Non-Custodial Parents Employment Program, Talbot County Department of Social Services; and Doug Devenyns, Director of the Talbot County Department of Corrections. Pictured front row, left to right, are Inspire Fatherhood Re-Entry Support Group members recognized for their accomplishments: James Carter, III, Dewayne Camper, Vincent Bratcher, and Quartez Roberts. Absent from the photo is keynote speaker, Ronald Nix, Outreach Coordinator for Maryland’s Child Support Enforcement Administration.