Court-Involved Women Learn Important Parenting Skills In Probation’s Mothers and Womanhood Programs
(Boston, MA) - Mothers, who are on Probation or court-involved, are provided information and helpful tips on how to become better parents when they participate in one of the Massachusetts Probation Service’s 10 programs for mothers and women. Two of these statewide programs are hosting graduation ceremonies in time for Mothers Day on Sunday, May 8th.
Norfolk Juvenile Probation’s MPower (MOMPower) Program graduated more than a dozen women, ages 20 to 60 years old, on Wednesday, May 4th, at the Dedham court. Most of the women in this group did not have custody of their children, according to Norfolk Juvenile Probation Officer Teresa Plante who together with Probation Officer Tracey Clougher established MPower. However, after participating in this 11-week program, one mother received conditional custody and two other mothers received physical custody of their children. MPower participants are subjects of care and protection cases—when abuse and/or neglect of a child is alleged. Mothers attend workshops on nutrition, healthy relationships, child discipline and development, child trauma, substance abuse, and organizational skills.
“We are proud to say that of the 36 women who have gone through the program since it first began in 2012, 17 mothers were reunified with their children,” Plante said.
MPower graduate Tricia Meador served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony. A 34-year-old mother of three, Meador now has custody of her three-year-old twin boys as well as unsupervised visitation with her six-year-old daughter since participating in the program.
“I wanted to do everything right to get my children back. This program is so beneficial and enlightening and it helps families. One of the best sessions was when a social work from DCF (Department of Children and Families) spoke with us. Here is a DCF worker and not our caseworker who was on very neutral ground. She helped us understand the process. We also had a doctor come in and speak about children and trauma,” Meador said. “I want other mothers to benefit from this program the way I have.”
Meador told her fellow graduates at the ceremony, “When you get involved in the court system and you do what you are supposed to do, things will get better for you. We all deserve better. This (graduation) is the beginning of all of the good that is out there and waiting for us.”
"The Mothers and Womens Programs are among the many parenting programs the Massachusetts Probation Service offers for offenders. We have found that participation in this type of programming has provided necessary skills to help reunite families as well as reduce recidivism among offenders," said Commissioner Edward J. Dolan.
On Tuesday, May 10th, Cambridge District Court’s Mothers Enrichment Program will hold its graduation at the court’s Medford location. Six mothers, ages 18 to 47, are scheduled to graduate. This Cambridge program, the second oldest Mothers program, offers sessions in art therapy and interactive lectures on domestic violence, working with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and substance abuse. Probation’s first Mothers Program was established nearly 20 years ago at Boston Municipal Court-West Roxbury division.
Eastern Hampshire District Court’s Womanhood Program, will graduate eight women, ages 20 to early 50’s, on Tuesday, May 17th,.2 p.m., at the courthouse. Most of the program’s participants volunteered and were not court-ordered to attend, according to Probation Officer Regina Sanderson, who established this initiative. The 10-week sessions feature a curriculum that covers nutrition and health; breast and cervical cancer; personal safety and self-defense; as well as resume writing, job search, and interviewing skills. Sanderson also brought in two women from a western Massachusetts minimum security facility to participate.
“The program has been able to reach another population of women in need. It’s amazing to bring women together who not only are from different backgrounds, but also ages, education, and probation status,” Sanderson said. “We try through this program to offer education, information, and possible friendships among the women in hopes that they will then use the skills and reach out to the women they have met to reduce recidivism.”
Quincy District Court’s Mothers Program graduation will take place Tuesday, May 24th, at 4:30 at the courthouse. Ten mothers, ages 21 to 43, are scheduled to complete the program and graduate. Five of the 10 women have custody of their children.
Probation’s other Mothers Programs include 10-12-week sessions at New Bedford District Court, Lawrence District Court, Orange District Court, and the very first Mothers Program at BMC-West Roxbury. Chelsea District Court, and BMC-Dorchester offer Womens or Womanhood Programs.