WVCF offenders acquire parenting skills

CARLISLE– The Inside Out Dads Program at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (WVCF) is helping offenders learn ways to maintain a relationship with their children while incarcerated. 

The class spans 12 weeks and covers a variety of topics all focused on how to develop healthy relationships with their children.  There are no more than 15 participants per class to allow time for individual participation.

Caseworker Brittany Bendekovich, Inside Out Participants, and Caseworker Steve Miller

“I make it my personal goal to hear from everyone in the group at least once per meeting, ” said Caseworker Steve Miller. “Openly talking about the challenges they face helps them connect with one another.  It also keeps them more grounded and focused on how they should spend their time.” 

He says he accomplishes this goal by having participants complete a worksheet, then discuss their responses.  Once they start talking, the barriers begin to come down.

In addition to the discussions, participants write letters to their children.  In the letters they share what they have discovered about themselves, and how they are growing as an individual.  It’s a tangible way for them to reflect on the choices they have made and the consequences.  The responses from the participants are overwhelmingly positive. 

“I like the program because it teaches me better ways of being a father and handling things differently,” said participant Jovon Harvey. “In the program you hear from other fathers and you learn from each other’s mistakes.” 

Another participant Todd Rasner said, “Inside Out Dads has given me the tools to stay close to my children even though physically we are miles apart.”