Tamera Thomas, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for Franklin County; Angela Mitchell, Program Assistant for Mason County; and Cathy Smith, Calloway County Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program Assistant presented at the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA) conference on November 2, 2010. They addressed the topic "Kentucky Cooperative Extension: Teaching Basic Life Skills to Incarcerated Parents," which addressed their involvement in offering community classes on nutrition, financial literacy and parenting to incarcerated adults.
The International Community Corrections Association is a private, non-profit, membership organization, which acts as the representative voice for residential and other community corrections programs. It expects its members to have a belief/compassion in the dignity and worth of human beings, and to respect individual difference and a commitment to quality care for its clients.
This year's conference theme was: "What Works: How to Get it Done" and it was held at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky. Their focus was on not learning what methods work, but how to make them work. An application of research to practice was highlighted to show that to make something successful it takes agency capacity, training and skills.
At the conference, Thomas was asked to present the work she has done with Frankfort Career and Development Center to teach incarcerated fathers how to become nurturing dads to their children and how to develop healthy relationships with their children's mothers.
In this work she took recent statistics that indicate that 70% of the nation's children will at one time in their lives reside with their mother only and the knowledge that fathers are extremely important to the economic and social development of children and developed a class. The class met for 12 weeks and covered topics that focused on nutrition, financial literacy and parenting. Participant reviews of the class revealed that the experience and educational information made them better fathers and positively impacted their lives. A video that incorporates the views of the fathers about this program is available for viewing.
Thomas hopes that the information her group presented will increase the attendees' awareness of Cooperative Extension as a valuable resource, and that by partnering with them they can further impact their clientele.