Initiative provides services to families of 21,000+ inmates in 65 corrections facilities across Tennessee!
VendEngine, a cloud-based software provider focused on the government payments and corrections markets, has partnered with The Family Center, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking multigenerational cycles of childhood trauma, to provide comprehensive services to the families of more than 21,000 inmates in the 65 corrections facilities the company serves across Tennessee. The partnership will reach nearly 100,000 people outside the corrections facilities in the communities the company serves.
Under the partnership, The Family Center will offer a variety of virtual and videoconferencing services to build better lives for families of incarcerated parents across the state. The organization hopes to also build on current relationships with Davidson and Rutherford County corrections facilities to create partnerships with other corrections facilities across Tennessee, helping incarcerated parents as well. VendEngine will also provide advertising for the center and its programs on its JailFunds app and other platforms. Programs include:
- Family Coaching – helps leverage the strengths of each family to improve dynamics across generations in the home, safe zones or in group settings. Sessions are aimed at developing family resiliency, cultivating empathy and discipline, creating schedules and routines, building self-esteem, strengthening social connections and healthy attachment and more.
- Positive Parenting… Plus! groups – this proven curriculum (based on the evidence based Nurturing Parenting) supports moms, dads and family caregivers through emotional support and skill building on a variety of topics including child development, self-esteem, communication, child safety, handling stress, parenting styles and managing behavior.
- 1:1 Nurturing Families sessions –families can deepen relationships and connections through individualized family coaching. Participants attend weekly one-hour sessions, 4 to 16 weeks, following the evidenced based Nurturing Parenting curriculum.
- Trauma Informed Culture training – the center also works with a systems and other organizations to break multigenerational cycles of trauma. Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) six principles and guidelines, the staff partners with corrections facilities, courts and other organizations to create a culture that embraces trauma awareness and more sensitive staff interactions with families and incarcerated individuals tailored to meet specific needs.
“We are constantly striving to provide a better life for inmates, their families and the community, and that starts with building a strong family life,” said Bernard Salandy, a sales director of VendEngine. “We are thrilled to launch this partnership with The Family Center, a visionary organization dedicated to improving the lives of families starting with children, our future. This will build a solid foundation for a better society.”
Initially, the initiative will be an eight–to-24-week program – depending on the customized number of sessions – that culminates with a graduation ceremony and continued coaching for thousands of families across Tennessee. Families can choose whether to opt in to eight-week groups or 16-week 1:1 sessions (or participate in both) that culminate with graduations and ongoing support through The Family Center.
“We are on a mission to break multigenerational cycles of childhood trauma,” said Susan Galeas, president and CEO of The Family Center. “Children’s exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences/Adverse Community Environments (ACEs) increases the potential for substance abuse, violence, suicide, poor decision making, petty crimes, and overall negative health outcomes. This program can help families break that cycle by learning how to nurture their children and prepare them for resilience!”
The U.S. has the highest prison population, with 716 incarcerated per 100,000, according to research., and mental health issues are higher among incarcerated adults than in other communities. Exposure to childhood trauma and violence is a primary cause for increasing potential of children and adults becoming involved in criminal behavior.
Recent neurological studies also demonstrate that toxic stress (unmitigated) in childhood changes the brain structure, creating multigenerational challenges and patterns of incarceration. The Family Center programs offer both incarcerated parents and their children the opportunity to better understand healthy brain development, skills that increase bonding, instill the value of nurturing relationships, effective discipline and parent self-care to move forward with greater awareness, confidence, and a renewed hope as productive citizens in the community.
This partnership reinforces VendEngine’s commitment to building better communities and fostering hope for inmates and their families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company
has provided more than 40 million free connections – texts, emails and video visitation – to incarcerated individuals across the nation to ease the impact of the pandemic. To date, the program has delivered 30 million+ in free minutes – more than 57 years to over 75,000 families nationwide. The services, which will continue throughout 2021, are part of an emergency program VendEngine deployed in March of 2020 when the crisis began. VendEngine also donates communications services for inmates and their families to connect during the Christmas holiday season.
About The Family Center
The Family Center offers a range of evidence or research-based services that help break cycles of trauma in families. The center recognizes that creating resilient communities starts in families and families often need a village to support them. The Center provides seminars targeting specific needs in shorter time frames, groups that offer more intensive information and skills for families (community partner sites also include the option for children), two-generational coaching in homes, safety zones, or facilities, and training for nonprofits, businesses, and systems like courts or corrections facilities to advance knowledge and integrate system changes related to Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Community Environments (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Principles. For more information, visit www.familycentertn.org