Jeana entered Oregon’s Coffee Creek Correctional Facility when her son Jayden was an infant. Earning the privilege of participating in Community Action’s Early Head Start program while incarcerated played a significant role in changing her life.
Spending a few hours a week with Jayden in a controlled but home-like setting, she bonded with her baby. But so much more was happening. Jeana was given a chance to be not just an inmate, but a hands-on mother during the most formative time of her baby’s development. And she embraced this chance.
By doing the hard work of gaining positive parenting skills, she was building a foundation for success that would give both Jeana and Jayden a head start when she was released after serving her sentence.
With the caring support of Community Action’s Head Start staff, Jeana began to think about the kind of future she wanted for her and her son. She was motivated to make the necessary changes that would place them on a path to a positive and fulfilling life.
Upon her release, Jeana set ambitious goals and has worked hard to achieve them. Today, she is employed full-time in the insurance industry and attends school in pursuit of a career as a paralegal. Sustainable economic security is within her reach. Most importantly, she is a successful mom to a bright, inquisitive and active three-year old.
Operated by Community Action (serving Washington County, Oregon), the Early Head Start program at Coffee Creek is just one of two such programs in the United States, serving up to eight incarcerated mothers and their children. Parent-child visits take place two days per week, for 3 ½ hours each day at a bright and welcoming child development center located on the grounds of the correctional facility. Early Head Start staff work with both mother and child to encourage constructive and nurturing interaction grounded in proven educational and developmental strategies.
The Oregon Department of Corrections felt a partnership focused on parental training and family interaction made sense because 80% of the women entering the Oregon prison systems are mothers. With 95% returning to the community, most reunite with children. And research supports the theory that an early bond between mother and child reduces recidivism and increases the likelihood for sustainable success.
Community Action’s Early Head Start program had all the ingredients to provide this experience for mothers incarcerated at Coffee Creek and this unique partnership has endured for more than a decade. Jeana’s story is just one example of lives changed for the better because of an opportunity made possible by Community Action.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2007 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2009 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2007 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2009 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- College Board Trends in Pricing