ENFIELD – The Connecticut Department of Correction is one of only five sites in the country that was selected for the Family Connections Pilot Program, focused on incarcerated parents and their children.
The Family Dance was set to allow fathers preparing for release, to bond with their children while behind bars.
“It’s rare to have the opportunity to be able to bond with my daughter this way and I’m just excited,” inmate Rudy Ortiz said. “I’m excited for everyone who’s a part of this groundbreaking effort.”
The Cybulski Community Reintegration Center hosted a dance Monday evening to kick off a new set of programs organizers plan to unveil as a part of their Family Connections program.
“The fathers are going to have a lot more options to interact with their children,” Director of Re-Entry Services Trina Sexton said. “Their children want to bring their homework in and have their father help them on a weeknight, that’s something that’s going to be able to happen.”
Fifteen inmates and their families took advantage of the dance and enjoyed time with their children one-on-one.
“It gives me hope to let me know that I can continue to have a strong relationship with my family, strong healthy relationship,” inmate Chris Brown said.
Commissioner Rollin Cooks said the department recognizes when a parent is incarcerated it doesn’t just affect the individual, but the entire family.
“Even with your children, it’s even more important to have that connection and in many ways break the cycle,” Commissioner Cook said.
Commissioner cook said many re-entry programs focus on housing and employment, but strong family relationships play a huge role in success after time in jail.