Partnership Uses Tech to Assist Families of Tennessee Inmates

By CN Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—VendEngine, a cloud-based software provider focused on the government payments and corrections markets, has partnered with The Family Center, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking multigenerational cycles of childhood trauma, to provide comprehensive services to the families of more than 21,000 inmates in the 65 corrections facilities the company serves across Tennessee. The partnership will reach nearly 100,000 people outside the corrections facilities in the communities the company serves.

Under the partnership, The Family Center will offer a variety of virtual and videoconferencing services to build better lives for families of incarcerated parents across the state. The organization hopes to also build on current relationships with Davidson and Rutherford County facilities to create partnerships with other facilities across Tennessee, helping incarcerated parents as well. VendEngine will also provide advertising for the center and its programs on its Jailfunds app and other platforms.

Programs include:

  • Family Coaching – helps leverage the strengths of each family to improve dynamics across generations in the home, safe zones or in group settings. Sessions are aimed at developing family resiliency, cultivating empathy and discipline, creating schedules and routines, building self-esteem, strengthening social connections and healthy attachment and more.
  • Positive Parenting … Plus! groups – this proven curriculum (based on the evidence based Nurturing Parenting) supports moms, dads and family caregivers through emotional support and skill building on a variety of topics including child development, self-esteem, communication, child safety, handling stress, parenting styles and managing behavior.
  • 1:1 Nurturing Families sessions – families can deepen relationships and connections through individualized family coaching. Participants attend weekly one-hour sessions, four to 16 weeks, following the evidenced based Nurturing Parenting curriculum.
  • Trauma Informed Culture training – the center also works with systems and other organizations to break multigenerational cycles of trauma. Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) six principles and guidelines, the staff partners with corrections facilities, courts and other organizations to create a culture that embraces trauma awareness and more sensitive staff interactions with families and incarcerated individuals tailored to meet specific needs.

“We are constantly striving to provide a better life for inmates, their families and the community, and that starts with building a strong family life,” said Bernard Salandy, a sales director of VendEngine. “We are thrilled to launch this partnership with The Family Center, a visionary organization dedicated to improving the lives of families starting with children, our future. This will build a solid foundation for a better society.”

Initially, the initiative will be an eight-to-24-week program – depending on the customized number of sessions – that culminates with a graduation ceremony and continued coaching for thousands of families across Tennessee. Families can choose whether to opt in to eight-week groups or 16-week 1:1 sessions (or participate in both) that culminate with graduations and ongoing support through The Family Center.

“We are on a mission to break multigenerational cycles of childhood trauma,” said Susan Galeas, president and CEO of The Family Center. “Children’s exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences/Adverse Community Environments (ACEs) increases the potential for substance abuse, violence, suicide, poor decision making, petty crimes, and overall negative health outcomes. This program can help families break that cycle by learning how to nurture their children and prepare them for resilience!”

Recent neurological studies also demonstrate that toxic stress (unmitigated) in childhood changes the brain structure, creating multigenerational challenges and patterns of incarceration. The Family Center programs offer both incarcerated parents and their children the opportunity to better understand healthy brain development, skills that increase bonding, instill the value of nurturing relationships, effective discipline and parent self-care to move forward with greater awareness, confidence, and a renewed hope as productive citizens in the community.