Equipping Moms and Supporting Children: Palmer Home Family Care

April 5, 2021

Equipping Moms and Supporting Children: Palmer Home Family Care

Our Family Care program provides nurturing care for infants of incarcerated mothers, but did you know it does so much more than that?

In addition to helping provide loving homes for newborns with the goal of reunification after a mother’s sentence, our case managers serve both birth and Family Care families to transition children as smoothly as possible, provide reentry services for moms after their release, and offer ongoing counsel and support for Family Care families as moms navigate life on the outside.

Mother with her new born baby girl in the hospital.

There are three distinct stages to Family Care:

Stage 1 – Licensure Placement: The first stage of Family Care is called Licensure Placement, during which an incarcerated mother chooses to have her child placed in the care of one of our licensed foster families. The number of days a child stays with their foster family varies from child to child and situation to situation.

Stage 2 – Aftercare: Children are transferred to Aftercare after they have successfully been in their biological mother’s care for 30 days. After 30 days of successful reunification, the child is discharged from their foster home. The child and mother continue to be served through Aftercare for the next six months. Aftercare services are unique to each mother and child, and depend on their needs, location and mother’s desire to remain engaged with our program.

Stage 3 – Family Preservation: Family Preservation is the final stage of Family Care and has no defined end date. Children remain as a Family Preservation case as long as needed. This stage includes:

  • children who were never Licensure Placements or in Aftercare, such as siblings of children in Licensure Placements;
  • children who were able to remain with their mothers due to alternative community-based sentencing;
  • children placed with family members of incarcerated mothers;
  • and children in the community whose family members have been impacted by incarceration.

Continued Support

Some of the support and reentry services that our caseworkers provide for moms include: assistance with obtaining housing and employment; providing transportation; securing resources like clothing, food, home goods, baby items and supplies; and providing emotional support and stable relationships.

When support is no longer provided for a child, they are discharged from Family Care. They may re-enter as a Licensure Placement or a Family Preservation case at a later time if circumstances change and time or resources need to be provided again for that family.

COVID-19 Effects

When the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, it had dramatic effects on the prison system. Prison visits were suspended – and as of right now, they still are – meaning that many moms have not been able to see their babies in over a year. Our case managers quickly responded to this new need and Palmer Home is covering the costs for more phone calls, mailed letters, printed photos and virtual visits (if available, not all prisons are outfitted with this technology) to keep the connection between mother and baby strong.

Another effect of the pandemic is that fewer expectant moms are being incarcerated, instead being given the opportunity to serve their sentences outside of prison. Palmer Home Family Care is serving these moms by providing social services and supplies to ensure they are equipped to care for the children. Additionally, we are assisting care providers in the Family Preservation stage who have reduced income due to COVID-19 with supplies including diapers, formula, groceries and gas cards.

How You Can Support Family Care

Interested in supporting Palmer Home Family Care? There are lots of ways you can help! We are always seeking caregiver families who have a heart for caring for infants while their mother is incarcerated with the goal of reunification. We can only care for as many infants as we have caregiver families!

Family With Children And Newborn Son In Nursery

If you’d like to support financially, please visit palmerhome.org/donate and specify ‘Family Care’ in the note when making your gift. While we always welcome donations of supplies like diapers and clothing, financial gifts offer the most flexibility for serving the unique and varying needs of the children and families in our care.

We are also hosting a Radiothon on May 4 with 94FM The FISH in Nashville. The day will be packed with special Palmer Home programming, complete with stories from caregivers, moms and children we’ve served! Be sure to tune in on your radio or thefishnashville.com. You can learn more about the day on our website!

Our Family Care program is based in the Nashville area; you may be familiar with its previous name, Jonah’s Journey. We are actively working to expand the program to other cities and states through partnerships with other prisons. To learn the latest updates, be sure you’re signed up for the Palmer Home monthly e-newsletter by visiting palmerhome.org/about and submitting your email at the bottom of the page.

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