Program Helps Pre-Release Clients be Stronger, More Confident Parents

For Kate Bouwkamp, the stark tile floors, plastic chairs and glass and metal walls of the visitation room at the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center were far from the kind of supportive environment soon-to-be free clients needed to best bond with their children.

The space was simply “not developmentally appropriate or friendly,” said Bouwkamp, the community services program coordinator with Rockville’s Community Services Division. Because of her work at the pre-release center, Bouwkamp decided to do something about it. The county-run center provides transitional services and support to soon-to-be released sentenced and incarcerated adults.

The Montgomery County Collaboration Council approached the City of Rockville for a special project to support families who are facing the reality of incarceration. The city was provided funding to create two warmer and more welcoming visitation spaces at the center — one in the visitation area, another in the women’s wing. Staff at the center were excited for the changes and have been working closely with Bouwkamp on the project.

Both spaces, which are due to be complete in June, will help foster play and improve interactions between parents and children. They will feature interactive, wall-mounted fixtures, games, books and other enriching activities so parents can spend quality time with their children during visits.

Bouwkamp is no stranger to the pre-release center. She spends 27 weeks a year at the center teaching effective parenting skills to clients on the verge of release as part of the ACT-Raising Safe Kids program. She received a certificate of appreciation for her work at the Montgomery County Department of Corrections’ 46th Annual Awards Ceremony.

“The amount of kids impacted by it is pretty amazing,” Bouwkamp said.
For more information on services provided by the Community Services Division, which provides outreach and support for at-risk and disadvantaged youth and families, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/376/Youth-Family-Programs.