- Unique approach working with both incarcerated parents and children and family members in the community
- Community College gives structure and integrity to program
- Certificate program is a unique and meaningful component for parents
- Strong relationships with other partners serving children and families impacted by incarceration
In addition, we want to note that this program is so meaningful and successful that it has literally changed the course of the lives of multiple parents (and their children) that have participated. For example:
- A single mom served in the program (her children's father was incarcerated) was homeless when they met her in 2017 through the Judy Center. By participating in the BEST program and achieving her certificate she came to realize that she was smarter and more capable than she had given herself credit for. By the time she completed the entire program and recieved her certificate, she had found a job, moved into her own apartment and found support to help go back to school. She specifically noted that the support and empowerment of completing the AACC BEST 2.0 certificate gave her the courage and initiative she needed to address her situation and move forward, and that it helped both she and her boys become happier and deal better with their circumstances.
- An inmate at Ordnance Road detention center was released before the end of his parent education class. Because he felt that the program was so helpful to him, and such a benefit to his children, he took the initiative to call the BEST Behavioral Specialist after his release to make an appointment and come into the Arundel Mills Campus of AACC to figure out how to finish the requirements for the parenting class. They helped him create a plan and he successfully completed the program, and received his CEU’s and a letter of completion. He was also able to use these things to help demonstrate to his new employer that he was determined and committed and worth taking a risk on.
There are so many more stories like this from this program! But the bottom line is that it has a tremendous impact, helps these parents build better relationships with their children, helps their children learn better ways to cope with the stress and trauma of having an incarcerated parent, and actually helps ameliorate some of the negative impacts while encouraging parents to attempt things that could improve their family's situation in ways they'd never have previously considered doing. To call it powerful is an understatement!