We met Kayla when she was incarcerated at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (DPFC). A woman living with schizophrenia and an intellectual disability, Kayla also struggled with depression and anxiety. 

At the time, Kayla's son, Jackson, was eight years old and living with his father, Sam. Kayla had been estranged from Jackson for about six months before she was incarcerated, and although her relationship with Sam was amicable, it frustrated her to not be involved in parental decision making. 

Motivated by a desire to rebuild relationships that were important to her, Kayla signed up for our Family Visits program. Our Family Visits program helps keep people in prison connected with their family in the community through supported video 'visits'.

The family support sessions revealed the need for structure when it came to preparing for their time together. With the Support Worker's guidance, Kayla actively participated in preparation sessions, leading to the creation of a structured plan for their visits. These structured sessions began with casual interactions between Kayla and Jackson, providing a focused and enjoyable experience. 

While the program primarily targeted Kayla's relationship with Jackson, it also assisted her in developing effective communication skills with Sam. Discussions and practicing different communication styles and conflict management became integral components of their support sessions. 

As the program unfolded, Kayla's confidence and communications skills burgeoned. By learning different strategies, she became more attuned to Jackson's emotions, offering guidance and setting boundaries. Kayla learned to balance assertiveness with an openness to compromise. The transformation was evident in Kayla's shifting perspective - from merely wanting to see Jackson, to aspiring to be a reliable and nurturing parent in his life. 

Prior to Kayla completing our program, conversations with Sam were initiated to navigate the complexities of ongoing co-parenting, utilising strategies honed during the program. As Kayla prepared to be released, our Support Worker organised post-release support, ensuring a seamless-as-possible transition home for Kayla. 

Kayla returned home with tried and true, new communications skills under her belt - fostering a new beginning with a foundation for continued growth and connection beyond the prison walls. 

*Names of participants have been changed to protect their privacy.