Monday was a special day for seven inmates and their children at the Daviess County Security Center. Santa came to visit, presents were opened and pizza was served, but most importantly, seven men graduated from the InsideOut Dad Program.
InsideOut Dad, founded nearly 20 years ago, is part of the National Fatherhood Initiative and helps to connect incarcerated fathers to the children and families as well as prepare them for release.
Cindy Barber, Learning Network and Meth Projects Coordinator, said that the program, which in mandated at all Indiana State Correctional Facilities, is unique in that it is offered at a short-term security facility.
“There was a need for a program like this here,” said Barber who was trained to instruct the InsideOut Dad program at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle just a few years ago. Since that training, Barber has seen many faces take the course to help them become better parents on the outside while they are on the inside.
Statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative state that children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely than other children to be incarcerated at some point in their life. The Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents also estimates that 2.8 million minor children have parents in jail or prison.
“Some of the participants are recommended for the course and others want to take it,” she said. “It’s a great program and it is open to anyone but many of those who take part in the Resisting Addiction through Recovery and Education (RARE) program are involved.”
The program includes a 12-lesson curriculum with over two dozen optional lessons and includes topics such as relationships, dealing with emotions, types of discipline, and being a man. Participants also receive resource books they can keep. Those enrolled in the program do not get time taken off their sentence but rather learn what it takes to be a good father.
While not all the graduates had their children and families there on graduation day, several enjoyed time with their families before Christmas.
One of those men enjoying the time with his children was Eunice Lesure, Jr., who spent time individually interacting with each of his three children, tossing a football with one little boy, rocking another and bouncing a vibrant little girl on his lap.
Barber said Lesure had completed the course once but asked to take it again since he had another child.
Dylan Burris was also enjoying the afternoon with family, including his two children. Burris intently watched as his little boy climbed into his new toy dump truck. “Look at him,” Burris said, his eyes widening with joy. “He loves it.”
The graduation celebration was made possible in part by a donation from the Westminster Presbyterian Church and Rev. Cheryl Thorne. Members of the church congregation collected money through their “Change for Change” program.