(FORT BEND, TX)
- Fort Bend County (FBC) Judge KP George along with FBC Sheriff Eric
and FBC Director of Behavioral Health Services Dr. Connie Almeida,
today announced a new program designed to support the minor children of
parents who are currently incarcerated in Fort Bend County thanks to a
collaboration between the Department of Behavioral
Services and the Sheriff’s Office, through a grant from the U.S.
Department of Justice.
Behavioral Health Services’ Always Parenting Program, is designed to
provide support and resources to the FBC jail to create child-friendly
spaces for visits and family-focused
services, enhance safety protocols and procedures for visiting
children, and develop a coordinated system of family-focused services
that support the needs of incarcerated parents and their children.
Additionally, the program intends to reduce the adverse
effects of incarceration by strengthening parent-child relationships,
addressing social determinants of health, and supporting re-entry and
positive family reunification.
Tuesday, Commissioner’s Court approved the acceptance of grant funds
from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office. This is so important when
you think about the number
of how many incarcerated parents' children live in the county,” said
Judge George. “By offering a program that will allow parents the chance
to serve their sentences and still spend time with their children, we
help to maintain the family structure. The children
have done nothing wrong, and where we can help, we should.”
Always Parenting Program is made possible by grant funds from the
Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Second
Chance Act, addressing the
needs of incarcerated parents and their minor children for the fiscal
year 2022. The amount of the grant is $741,460, with no match required
by Fort Bend County, for the period of October 1, 2022, through
September 30, 2025.
data from FBC jail indicates that in 2019, nearly 44% (n = 5,341) of
individuals booked into FBC jail had minor children. The Program aims to
coordinate a protocol
to identify the needs of incarcerated parents with minor children and
the needs of their children, and further established policies for
visitation in FBC jail to increase the opportunities for engagement,
play, and mutual learning between incarcerated parents
alongside FBC Behavioral Services is Dr. Robin Gearing from the
University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work in Fort Bend
County. The development and deployment
of Always Parenting will be accomplished in two phases.
initial phase focuses on planning activities needed to implement an
evidence-based coordinated system for the provision of programs and
services that support the needs
of incarcerated parents and their children. An advisory group and
subcommittees comprised of key agency and community stakeholders will
develop and implement sustainable components addressing: (1) Identifying
needs and targeting services (e.g., screening/assessment
tools specific to parenting); (2) Creating supportive and safe visiting
protocol and procedures (e.g., child-friendly and safe visitation
rooms, Visit Coaching, virtual visits); (3) Developing staff/core
personnel training (e.g., Mental Health First Aid, Trust-based
The subsequent implementation phase focuses on executing these plans to institute a countywide,
cross-system collaborative approach to improve responsiveness to needs
and outcomes for incarcerated parents and their children in FBC.