H. R. 2464
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 8, 2011
Mr. Rush (for himself, Ms. Moore, Mr. Jackson of Illinois, Mr. Stark, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Cohen, and Mr. Hastings of Florida) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce
To authorize a program to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that carry out child-parent visitation programs for children with incarcerated parents.
This Act may be cited as the
Families Beyond Bars Act of
Congress finds as follows:
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 1,500,000 children in the United States have at least one incarcerated parent, and an estimated 10,000,000 more individuals have at least one parent who was incarcerated at some point during the individual’s childhood.
In 2006, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that 75 percent of incarcerated women were mothers, two-thirds of whom were mothers of children under the age of 18, and an estimated 32 percent of incarcerated men were fathers of children under the age of 18.
The trauma associated with having an incarcerated parent has been well-documented, and includes depression, aggression, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, truancy, attention deficit disorders, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that children with imprisoned parents may be almost 6 times more likely than their peers to be incarcerated.
Increased visitation between incarcerated parents and their children can reduce the anxiety and sense of loss children of incarcerated parents experience. This beneficial, low-cost activity may also contribute to a reduction in future crime committed by, and incarceration of, children of incarcerated parents.
Participation in a comprehensive visitation program allows children of incarcerated parents to build relationships with caring adults and experience opportunities for meaningful involvement and membership, helping to reduce the negative effects of parent-child separation.
The incarceration of women who are mothers introduces significant changes to the family structure, income level, living arrangements, and emotional support systems of their children. The incarceration of mothers is often more disruptive than the incarceration of fathers, because an estimated two-thirds of mothers who are incarcerated serve as the primary caregiver for at least one child before arrest.
Incarceration can present an opportunity to enhance parenting skills, encourage children to resist peer pressure, and foster high parental expectations for their children’s school work.
Beyond Bars grant program
Grant program established
The Attorney General is authorized to award grants to qualified organizations to carry out, directly or through subgrants to other entities, child-parent visitation programs that foster and develop familial ties between eligible children and their incarcerated parents.
Grant period; renewability
A grant awarded under this section shall be for not less than a 3-year period and not more than a 5-year period, and may be renewed.
Grants awarded under this section may be used by a qualified organization to—
organize and lead group meetings, in accordance with subsection (c);
provide counseling to eligible children, and to their incarcerated parents;
select one or more qualified program facilitators to—
organize and lead group meetings, in accordance with subsection (c); and
provide counseling to eligible children, and to their incarcerated parents;
provide to one or more such qualified program facilitators a monthly stipend in accordance with subsection (d);
provide transportation for eligible children to attend such group meetings, and provide volunteer support to assist in such transportation;
provide security for eligible children during such group meetings, and comply with applicable security procedures required by the facility at which the eligible children’s parents are incarcerated;
provide enrichment activities for incarcerated parents of eligible children during incarceration and pre-release, including parenting classes and transition programs;
provide connections to and coordination with community and social services and other support to eligible children, incarcerated parents, and individuals who serve as guardians of eligible children while the eligible children’s parents are incarcerated;
obtain program materials and other supplies necessary to carry out other grant activities required or permitted under this subsection;
conduct periodic evaluations of the activities carried out with a grant under this section, including volunteer recruitment, parental support and development, measurement of children’s opportunities to build meaningful relationships with caring adults, and measurement of children’s opportunities for meaningful involvement and membership;
develop best practices regarding child-parent visitation programs for eligible children and their incarcerated parents, based on the evaluations conducted under paragraph (10);
provide age-appropriate enrichment activities for children, including activities related to basic life skills, hygiene, healthy and drug-free habits, social skills, and building self-esteem and confidence;
coordinate the logistics of the child-parent visitation program with the correctional facility at which the eligible children’s parents are incarcerated;
supervise adult volunteers who are assisting with the child-parent visitation program, whether such volunteers are working as individuals or as part of a team; and
conduct outreach activities to recruit eligible children.
The group meetings organized and led by a qualified organization with a grant under this section shall be supervised and facilitated by a qualified program facilitator in accordance with the provisions of this section, and—
may include meetings for parents that provide an opportunity for incarcerated parents of eligible children to obtain and improve parenting skills to ensure strong family foundations upon release, which may include evidence-based programs and emerging best practices; and
shall include the following:
At least one day each month, a meeting that provides an opportunity for eligible children to visit their incarcerated parents in the prison facility in which their parents are incarcerated, and to take part in child-parent activities based on evidence-based programs and emerging best practices that foster and develop familial ties. Such meeting shall provide a supportive environment for child-parent interaction, and may include arts and crafts, games, community service projects, and informal group mentoring sessions.
Meetings for children
At least one day each month, on a day other than the day described in subparagraph (A), a meeting in a location other than a prison facility that provides an opportunity for eligible children to build interpersonal problem-solving skills, character, self-confidence, and self-esteem by—
taking part in—
activities based on evidence-based programs and emerging best practices;
community service projects; and
recreational activities; and
holding planning meetings.
Stipend for qualified program facilitators
Not more than 45 percent of the grant funds provided to a qualified organization under this section may be used to provide a monthly stipend to qualified program facilitators. To be eligible to receive such a stipend, a qualified program facilitator shall enter into an agreement with a qualified organization to facilitate and supervise group meetings in accordance with the provisions of this section for not less than a one-year period, in exchange for such stipend. Such agreement may be renewable, at the discretion of the qualified organization, for additional one-year periods.
A qualified organization interested in receiving a grant under this section shall submit an application to the Attorney General at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Attorney General may require. Such application shall include an assurance by the qualified organization that the organization will provide the non-Federal share of the costs of the activities funded by a grant under this section in accordance with subsection (f).
In awarding grants under this section, the Attorney General may give priority as follows:
First, to qualified organizations that, before and on the date of enactment of this Act, are carrying out a child-parent visitation program for eligible children.
Second, to qualified organizations that have a track record of providing research-based, evaluated, and effective leadership development programming.
Third, to qualified organizations based on the quality of the organization’s plan for measuring and assessing success of the program to be carried out with such a grant.
Fourth, to qualified organizations based on the likelihood that the objectives of the program will be achieved by the organization.
A qualified organization receiving a grant under this section shall provide a percentage of the costs described in subsection (e)(1) from non-Federal sources, which may be contributed in cash or in-kind, and which may be provided from State or local public sources, or through donations from private entities. Such percentage of the costs shall be equal to—
in the case of a qualified organization that was established before the date of the enactment of this Act—
2.5 percent for the first year of such grant;
5 percent for the second year of such grant;
10 percent for the third year of such grant;
10 percent for the fourth year of such grant; and
10 percent for the fifth year of such grant; and
in the case of a qualified organization that was established on or after the date of the enactment of this Act—
5 percent for the first year of such grant;
10 percent for the second year of such grant;
15 percent for the third year of such grant;
15 percent for the fourth year of such grant; and
15 percent for the fifth year of such grant.
The Attorney General is authorized to issue such regulations as may be necessary to carry out this section.
Reports by organizations
Each qualified organization receiving a grant under this section shall submit to the Attorney General an annual report relating to the activities carried out with a grant under this section. Each such report shall include—
the evaluations conducted under section 3(b)(10), and the best practices developed, if any, under section 3(b)(11);
demographic information about the eligible children served by the qualified organization;
demographic information about any eligible children who applied to participate in the activities carried out with a grant under this section by the qualified organization, but who were not accepted for participation; and
an evaluation of the effect of leadership development programming on the social and emotional learning of the eligible children served by the qualified organization.
Reports by the Attorney General
Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Attorney General shall submit to Congress a report summarizing the annual reports submitted to the Attorney General under paragraph (2).
For the purposes of this Act:
The term qualified organization means an entity that carries out child-parent visitation programs that foster and develop familial ties between eligible children and their incarcerated parents, and that is—
a national nonprofit organization with the capacity (as determined by the Attorney General) to carry out such visitation programs in each of the several States;
a nonprofit community-based or faith-based organization; or
a partnership of two or more organizations or entities described in subparagraphs (A) or (B).
The term eligible children means individuals who—
are not younger than age 5 and are not older than age 18; and
have at least one parent who—
is incarcerated in a Federal or State prison;
during the 3-month period preceding participation in the activities carried out by a qualified organization under section 3, has displayed exemplary compliance with the disciplinary regulations of the prison, and during such participation, continues to display exemplary compliance with such disciplinary regulations; and
has never been convicted of or pled guilty to any offense involving child abuse or any sex offense against a minor.
The term prison means any correctional, detention, penal, pre-release, or other confinement facility that is administered by the Federal Government or a State, or by a private organization on behalf of the Federal Government or a State.
Qualified program facilitator
The term qualified program facilitator means an individual who—
is licensed as a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health professional, or is working under the direct supervision of such a licensed individual;
is licensed as a social worker or working under the direct supervision of a licensed social worker;
is a licensed or certified counselor of mental health, including an individual, school, or family counselor or therapist;
is an otherwise licensed or certified mental health professional qualified to provide services to children and adolescents;
has 5 or more years of experience working with children in a counseling capacity; or
has undergone a criminal background check, and has completed an orientation and all in-service training that is provided by a grantee for facilitators of a child-parent visitation program for eligible children.
The term State means each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, possession, or territory of the United States.
Leadership development programming
The term leadership development programming means programs that help children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills associated with the core areas of social and emotional competency, including—
self-awareness and self-management to achieve school and life success, such as identifying and recognizing strengths, needs, emotions, values and self-efficacy, impulse control and stress management, self-motivation and discipline, and goal setting and organizational skills;
social awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships, such as self-esteem and respect for others, communication, working cooperatively, negotiation, conflict management, and help-seeking; and
decisionmaking skills and responsible behaviors in personal, academic and community contexts, such as situational analysis, problem solving, reflection, and personal, social, and ethical responsibility.
Authorization of appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2012 through 2017. Such sum shall be derived from amounts appropriated in each such fiscal for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Department of Justice for research, evaluation, and training and technical services.