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Maternal Intervention Project (MIP ): Life History Experiences of Incarcerated Women

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Maternal Intervention Project (MIP ): Life History Experiences of Incarcerated Women Dr . Laura Kamptner Dr. Faith McClure Department of Psychology California State University, San Bernardino 10/25/13. Background/overview. Collaboration between SBCo Sheriff’s Dept. & CSUSB.

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Maternal Intervention

Project (MIP):

Life History Experiences of

Incarcerated Women

Dr. Laura Kamptner

Dr. Faith McClure

Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University, San Bernardino


background overview

Collaboration between SBCo Sheriff’s Dept. & CSUSB



  • Incarceration is often a multigenerational problem
  • Children of incarcerated parents are at high risk for incarceration themselves
  • Incarcerated women typically:
  • come from an unstable early family life (i.e., frequent moves, placement

in foster care or with many different family members)

  • experience multiple types of abuse such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
  • substance abuse
  • poor mental health
  • family instability (due to lack of education, lack of job skills, and poor parenting skills)

Without support, drug relapse and the intergenerational transmission of both drug use and incarceration are extremely high

  • Child development research: impact of early attachment security (i.e., positive, warm, caregiving experiences) which facilitates the development of children’s emotional, cognitive, and brain development, as well as academic success.

The impact of early parentingis profound--


If parents can be trained in positive parenting approaches, they are more able to:

- provide a stable home environment for their children

- help eliminate the intergenerational transmission of


data collection
Data Collection:
  • 336 women in 3 SBCo jail system
  • Extensive assessment covering:

1) demographic info

2) early history/experiences

3) health/drug history

4) many psychosocial assessments





  • many had multiple caregivers; many lived in foster care & with relatives (over 70% reported having lived with more than one family in childhood)
  • Parents shamed them, called them names, ridiculed them, told them they wouldn’t amount to much ( chose partners who repeated that)
  • Many left home/got pregnant at 13-14 yrs.
  • close to 100% had either a mother or father who used drugs or alcohol

61% experienced parental divorce early on

  • 70% report not living with their biological father while growing up
  • 58% report not living with their biological mother at some point while they were growing up
  • 33% report that their mother had psych/emotional problems while they were growing up


  • over 40% have a history of physical abuse
  • over 50% reported sexual abuse/rape/molestation in their childhood
  • over 50% report emotion/verbal abuse

( causing them to start using drugs early on to manage/

“shellac” what was going on)



A.C.E. assessment (Adverse Childhood Experiences study:

Assesses stressful/traumatic childhood experiences (e.g., abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, growing up with alcohol/ substance abuse, mental illness, parental discord, incarcerated parent/family member, crime in home)

Has been linked to: social, emotional, cognitive impairments leading to increased risk of unhealthy behaviors (e.g., substance abuse), risk of violence, disease, joblessness, disability, mental illness, homelessness, early death

our data
Our data:

(ACE score ranges from 0-10)

% of jailed A.C.E.

SBCo women: score:


15% 0

42.8% 1-3

42.2% 4-10



  • frequent moves
  • over 50% had attended more than one school in any given year
  • 33% have been homeless at some point in their lives


  • over 68% report that they have used street drugs and alcohol or both
  • 52% reported using meth
  • 80% use tobacco
  • many began using alcohol and drugs before the age of 12 (with some as young as age 7)


  • many of these women reported their own as well as their parents’ histories of poor mental health
  • depression/mood disorders: 53% report “feeling blue”, down-in-the-dumps (depressed); 29% report crying spells
  • anxiety symptoms: 46% report excessive worry; 23% report nervousness; 8% report having been diagnosed with anxiety disorder
  • 10% report hallucinating
  • 52% report having been in counseling at some point


  • many major losses
  • many have lost their own children to foster care system
  • a number have had their own children killed by their partners


  • over 40% have a family member who they knew had been incarcerated


  • 62% had not completed high school (and only 22% of these had completed a GED)


  • Poor relationship choices
  • many are in domestic violence relationships (put up with it because they are desperate to not be alone)
  • many have partners who prostitute them out to other men/relatives for money


Purpose: to assist mothers and children reduce the inter-

generational cycle of trauma, substance abuse, and


  • emphasizes the development of strong & stable families both within and outside the jail setting
  • helps mothers:
  • learn developmentally-appropriate parenting skills
  • learn effective parent-child communication
  • strengthen the parent-child attachment bonds
  • support their children in developing social and emotional competencies
  • is based on the most current research on attachment, child development, and mental health

Six “Components” of Intervention:

In-jail: 1) psychotherapeutic parenting class

2) TALK parent-child program

3) caregiver support/transition group

4) grief/trauma class (Trauma Recovery)

5) individual counseling

Post-release: 6) Re-entry support group for

mothers and children


In-jail psychotherapeutic parenting class

48-hr. class teaches “at-risk” parents:

  • developmentally-appropriate child guidance skills
  • parental attachment histories which impact parenting/

parenting skills

  • assisting parents in changing their attitude toward parenting and having empathy for their children (which will enable them to be consistent and implement developmentally-appropriate parenting skills under stress)
  • child growth and development
  • parenting children of different ages
  • creating safe and healthy home environments (communication, routines, etc.)
  • parent development and family unification
curriculum topics
Curriculum topics:
  • history of their early experiences being parented
  • parenting styles/attachment
  • brain development in children
  • child development milestones
  • creating a safe environment for children
  • basic needs of children
  • punishment vs. positive child guidance strategies
  • parent/family issues (divorce, blended families, single


  • self-help (coping mechanisms, interpersonal relationships)

2. In-jail TALK parent-child program

(children aged 13 and under can visit their incarcerated mothers)

  • clinical psychologists works alongside volunteer student interns to set up “play stations” and assists mothers and children as they read, play, and interact
  • mothers are helped to implement some of the parenting skills learned in the parenting class (e.g., active listening, validating the children’s feelings)
  • The mothers are affirmed by clinician whenever the mother is observed implementing these positive parenting practices

3. In-jail caregiver support/transition group

  • assists the caregivers who bring children to TALK with concerns about the emotional, behavioral, or other adjustment issues of children
  • offers assistance in accessing resources (e.g., psychological assessment , counseling)
  • offers a “pre-release” family meeting so caregiver and soon-to-be-released mother can address concerns re:potentialareas of family conflict when the mother is released
  • caregivers provided with information about the Maternal Re-Entry Program and are asked to encourage the mothers to attend once released from jail

4. In-jail grief/trauma class (“Trauma


  • addresses history of trauma
  • provides opportunities to grieve losses
  • provides strategies to cope
  • provides support as the women mourn their losses
  • gives them opportunities to deal with any shame they may have about feeling unloved, unworthy, or having been abandoned in instances when they should have been kept safe or protected

1. Developing trust versus mistrust2. Basic emotional needs3. Types of traumatic experiences4. What is grief5. What is unresolved grief6. What is trauma7. Symptoms associated with trauma8. Unhealthy coping styles (substance use and abuse, etc.)9. What the grief process looks like10. Relaxation activities11. How to identify people who will may be hurtful to us and/or

place us in hurtful situations12. How to identify healthy and supportive individuals in your

life13. Connecting with healthy resources

5 in jail individual counseling
5. In-jail individual counseling
  • Is not mandatory/sign ups available
  • Prerequisite – currently enrolled or have taken Grief and Trauma in the past
  • Meetings- once a week:

50 minutes sessions

4- 6 weeks


6. Re-entry support group for mothers:

Meets for 10 weeks (2 hrs. each week); provides a light meal for

both mothers and children. The purpose of this program is to:

  • assist them maintain their sobriety
  • practice developmentally-appropriate parentingemphasizes child guidance; helps with parent-child attachment/bonding; increases parents’ positive attitude toward children so skills learned can be implemented even during stressful times
  • manage stress and coping
  • assist them access other needed programs (e.g., enhancing their education and employment potential)

meeting basic needs of housing and food

  • provide psychological resources
  • parent-child communication and reunification
  • family relationships
  • grief and loss
next steps
Next Steps:
  • Data collection on 600 men
  • Classes for males: parent educ, trauma recovery
  • Build collaborative re-entry:

-counseling center/clinic

- support group run by mental health professionals

- parent education classes

-resource center with social work caseworkers

-drug courts

  • Caregiver support & transitional support