Parenting skills training program

Son to a Father Parenting Skills Training Program is a new program that CJC is proud to pilot along with Cole and Nathan Williams at Ionia Bellamy Creek Prison.  CJC approached Chaplain Dan Thompson about the program last fall.  Within a few short months, the program received approval by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).

This program is a multicultural, parenting educational series for men who hold one of life’s most important roles: fatherhood.  It was developed specifically to suit the institutional and interpersonal contexts shaping incarcerated men’s relationships with their children.

Son to a Father Parenting Skills Training Program builds on a unique design that involves a father and son team, Cole and Nate, as co-facilitators.  The men enrolled at Ionia Bellamy Creek Prison attend twelve two-hour sessions at
which they are challenged to re-examine the way they see themselves as fathers.  Group discussions encourage them to become the fathers their children need them to be.

Why is this so important?  The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated reports:

  • More than 2.7 million children in the U.S. (1 in 28) have an incarcerated parent.  
  • Most prisons are not accessible by any form of public transportation, restricting child-parent visits.
  • Approximately half of children with an incarcerated parent are under ten years old. 

Cole grew up fatherless and became a single, teenage father at the age of sixteen.  He was able to reunite with his biological father later in life and became a foster parent and adopted other fatherless boys.  In class, Nate effectively explains the son’s perspective -- a son’s expectations and disappointments of his father.  Nate also has a son living in Florida so he shares what it is like to parent from a distance and how to nurture a relationship even if you cannot be present in your child’s life.