Social Work students help inmates connect with their children

May 11, 2011

Inmates at Carroll County Detention Center will have 248 books to choose from to read on video to their children thanks to the book drive organized by McDaniel Social Work students.

Students handed off the books – which included such classics as Curious George tales, “Are You My Mother?,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Go Dog Go!,” “Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch” by McDaniel professor Mona Kerby and many more – to CCDC warden George Hardinger and Carroll County Health Department staff during a May 10 ceremony in McDaniel’s Hoover Library.

“McDaniel is a service-learning school – students step out into the community,” said sophomore Sarah Kernan, president of the Social Work Action Team (SWAT), adding that McDaniel students frequently engage and work with community organizations to learn and also to serve.

McDaniel President Roger Casey agreed, explaining that service learning and community service are integrated with McDaniel’s educational mission.

McDaniel students (left to right) Joy Fitz, Katie Pickett, Kim Schaub, Sarah Kernan, Amanda Forbes, Dan Green, Brittany Libernini and Stanley Rapiey with McDaniel President Roger Casey (fifth from right) hand off donated books to Carroll County Health Department administrative assistant Tywanda Brooks (fourth from left), Carroll County Detention Center warden George Hardinger and Carroll County Health Department addictions counselor Linda Moffatt (center).

The brainchild of Brianna Czyz, re-entry counselor from the health department assigned to the detention center, the “Turning the Page” project will give inmates the opportunity to be filmed while reading a book aloud. Volunteers with the chaplain’s office will deliver the recorded DVDs with the books to the child or children of the inmate so that they can read along or at least look at the pictures while listening to and watching their mom or dad read to them. Coaching and help with reading will be available at the detention center’s library, which is staffed through the county library system.

“It gives inmates and their children something to connect with, to talk about – a memory they can share,” said Czyz, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a previous commitment. “The child then has something to hold onto – something tangible, the DVD and the book – while separated from the parent.

“Of course, it also promotes literacy on both sides.”

Czyz participated in a book drive for a similar project on the Eastern Shore during her college days there and knows what a difference it can make in the lives of both inmate and child. In fact, Hardinger called the project life changing for both parent and child.

“You can’t imagine what this will mean,” Hardinger said before presenting Casey with a coin imprinted with the slogan adopted by the detention center staff: “Brave enough to care; Strong enough to lead.”