UM Develops Program for Incarcerated Men to Connect With Their Children

Jeramie Carr, right, and Jesse Harrison are participants in UM’s CAMPP program designed to connect incarcerated fathers with their children. (Credit: Thom Bridge, Independent Record)

MISSOULA – The Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development at the University of Montana’s School of Social Work has developed an innovative program connecting incarcerated fathers with their children. It is one of the first of its kind in Montana and nationwide.

CAMPP (Connecting Adults and Minors through Positive Parenting), is being piloted in the Deer Lodge State Prison. CAMPP provides fathers with opportunities to strengthen relationships with their children and build parenting skills and resilience so that men can be reunified with their children after release.

Looking to reduce the number of children in Montana’s foster care system, the program prioritizes fathers within five years of release with one or more children in foster care.

The center’s executive director, Ryan Tolleson-Knee, said research consistently has identified the many emotional and social stressors that children encounter when they have an incarcerated parent.

“When the idea for this program came about, we partnered with Montana State Prison to develop a wide array of educational videos, toolkits and other resources so these fathers could begin rebuilding their relationships with their children,” Tolleson-Knee said.

One of the resources used in the CAMPP’s curriculum is a video series on how to support children in foster care. The series was created by center staff member Haley Eakin, who compiled the videos through interviews with former foster youth and parents around Montana.

 “When trying to learn how to better support young people in foster care, there is no better group to ask than the people who experienced the system firsthand,” Eakin said. “I am thrilled that the advice and wisdom of Montana’s former foster youth are part of the CAMPP program’s curriculum to help parents learn how to best support their children in foster care, which is a challenging and tumultuous environment for any young person.”

Learn more about the CAMPP program by reading the Helena Independent Record’s coverage about the Deer Lodge State Prison.

Contact: Ryan Tolleson-Knee, executive director of UM’s Center for Children, Families and Workforce Development, 406-529-6499,