DECATUR, Illinois – The Moms and Babies Program at the Decatur Correctional Center held an open house today to celebrate its 3rd anniversary. Since opening in 2007, 25 moms and 19 babies have successfully completed the program, which is designed to help strengthen the special bond that is critical to a healthy mother and child relationship, while at the same time teaching inmates the tools to be a good parent after they re-enter society. Studies show that this kind of programming reduces recidivism and the chances of children continuing the cycle of incarceration.
The Moms and Babies Program is a pilot program administered by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) division of Women and Family Services to accommodate eight mothers and their babies, with a long-range goal of housing up to 20 mothers and babies. The program allows incarcerated women to keep their newborn babies with them to promote bonding through effective programming and a safe and supportive living environment. One major goal of the program is to build a sound foundation for a strong family structure that will continue after the inmate is released back into society.
“We are very pleased with the success of the Moms and Babies Program. It is helping reduce the recidivism rate for women in the state of Illinois. Program participants show a zero percent recidivism rate compared to the statewide rate of 51.3 percent,” IDOC Director Michael P. Randle said.
Selected candidates with a projected release date within approximately 24 months of their delivery date may be screened for the Moms and Babies Program. Incarcerated mothers and their babies have their own room in the correctional facility to accommodate the needs of the mother and baby. The program also has an Infant Development Center to provide daycare for infants while their incarcerated mothers attend programming classes and job assignments within the prison.
Children and families play an important role in an offender’s rehabilitation and reentry into society. Women and Family Services promotes a variety of programs to strengthen and reinforce bonding between mothers and their children. All female facilities offer parenting programs and special family activities, including Mom and Me Camp, Project Storybook and Project READ, as well as holiday activities.