The Maryland Governor’s Office for Children has made reducing the impacts of incarceration on children, families and communities a priority area. National research indicates that children of incarcerated parents often have higher rates of mental health concerns including stress, emotional and attachment difficulties, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, stigma and negative externalizing behaviors.
Talbot Family Network’s FY 16 Community Assessment and Planning process identified an estimated 616 children in Talbot County who are impacted by the incarceration of a parent. The survey of parents incarcerated at the Talbot County Detention Center indicated that their children were experiencing the following: 47% emotional stress, 21% school related learning or behavioral concerns, and 16% mental health concerns.
To address this issue in Talbot County, the Board of Talbot Family Network awarded Talbot Mentors with a grant that would allow them to increase the number of youth in mentoring relationships to include those youth who have been impacted by incarceration. The grant would also fund a support group for these youths. Katie Sevon, Executive Director, Talbot Family Network, states, “The program was very successful in FY17 and Talbot Family Network, with funding from the Children’s Cabinet, is pleased to continue to support these efforts in FY 18.”
The youth, who were in first through sixth grades, met once a week for 12 weeks. They asked that their support group include art therapy as a way of helping them cope with their situations of being children of incarcerated parents. Students met at both Talbot Mentors Easton and St. Michaels locations, utilizing the therapy services of For All Seasons. Curtis Murray, Support and Connect Specialist with For All Seasons, comments, “The biggest improvement we saw was in each child’s self-esteem. They gained confidence to express themselves through the art projects. They were able to share it with people who understood and empathized with them.”
Jazmine Gibson, Case Manager for Talbot Mentors, echoes Murray’s comments, adding, “Their self-portrait project really reflected emotionally what they were feeling. They drew how people see them on the outside and then drew what they were feeling on the inside. You could really tell what they were feeling with the lines and colors they created. It was great that they had the freedom to express themselves in that manner.”
According to Gerson Martinez, Executive Director of Talbot Mentors, “I am so grateful for the opportunity Talbot Mentors has to focus in on our mentees whose lives have been impacted by incarceration. This partnership between Talbot Family Network, For All Seasons, and Talbot Mentors truly provides a platform on which to advance our mission of enriching the lives of our mentees by providing access to programs like art therapy.”
A new 12-week session will start in March 2018 and run through June 2018 for students in grades five through eight. Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, comments, “Our agency continues to expand its outreach to the community, and this was the perfect opportunity to work with children and bring services to the community. We are very proud of this partnership with Talbot Mentors and Talbot Family Network. It’s one more example of how community resources working together can make a greater difference.”
Students are referred to the Talbot Mentors Program through school-based mental health services.
For All Seasons offers individual and group therapy, general, child and adolescent, marriage and couples counseling, grief counseling, school-based mental health therapy, urgent care services, Rape Crisis Response, Rape Crisis Counseling and Support, 24-Hour English and Spanish Hotlines, and education and outreach programming. For further information about For All Seasons, call 410-822-1018. For the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, call Toll-Free: 800-310-7273.