Thursday, February 18, 2010
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader praises efforts of local initiative
By Ruth Liao • Statesman Journal • February 17, 2010
"When northeast Salem esident Lucas Carpenter, 35, was arrested in June on theft and meth charges, he just felt failure and regret. He was having problems with his marriage, his children and his self-esteem.
But Carpenter underwent a turnaround as a participant of the Center for Family Success, a nonprofit program for parents with criminal backgrounds. He's going through drug treatment, family counseling, financial management and parenting classes.
"My life's in the middle of a complete overhaul," he said.
Carpenter shared his story with U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. and representatives from Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on Tuesday.
The presentation showed the efforts of Marion County Kids First Initiative, a collaboration of programs and services for children whose parents are addicted to methamphetamine.
In 2008, Kids First was awarded federal grant funds of about $380,000, which were given in October 2008 and last until June of this year, said Barb Young, Marion County senior policy analyst.
Marion County also received $740,000 for its next phase of funding, which is set to come in October, Young said.
According to a survey conducted in 2005, 73 percent of inmates in the Marion County jail were parents, said Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson.
"A lot of times, we don't think of people in the criminal justice system as parents, just individuals," she said.
Marion County Sheriff's Cmdr. Jeff Wood, who supervises the parole and probation division, said his agency is using evidence-based programs to help clients feel motivated to change, not simply referring them to a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Schrader said he was impressed to hear of the "wraparound" approach in the programs. Schrader said he wanted to invest in these types of programs.
"You cannot have success if you lock up people for an 'X' amount of time," he said.
He said he hoped to see smaller towns and rural communities adopt a similar approach.
The Center for Family Success is run by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. The program helps to motivate participants with skills and services such as goal-setting, housing referrals, financial management, parenting classes and mentoring in order to reunify families broken by incarceration or drug abuse.
In all, 65 men and women have participated at the center; 60 people took part in job and skills training and 25 people were placed in jobs.
For Carpenter, who began using alcohol and drugs when he was 9 years old, meth was the hardest addiction to overcome. He used meth for eight years before his arrest last summer. Then, he took part in Marion County drug court and the Center for Family Success. Carpenter said staying clean has helped improve his family relationships and ongoing job search, especially having a relationship with his mentor Christopher Hupp, the program's director.
"He's helped me dust off the tools that I have," he said."
rliao@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6941