Reinserta – (Reinsert) – Model for healthcare for mothers and their daughters and sons in contact with the penitentiary system
The vulnerable sectors of society have many different faces and stories. One vulnerable segment that too often lacks visibility is that of boys and girls living with their mothers in correctional centers. In Mexico, although women are allowed to keep their daughters and sons under 3 years of age with them in prison, they usually lack access to adequate areas for their children’s development. The Reinserta program is an innovative initiative that has adapted successful methodologies and evidence from other areas and used them to promote an adequate development of children in correctional centers. It also includes another innovative feature – tools to help mothers strengthen ties with their children and improve their care and childrearing capabilities. The program’s strategies consider the needs of children who are in contact with the penitentiary system. At the time of inculcating a deep and ample sense of freedom, courageous initiatives like this can be most helpful.
In Mexico, more than 700 girls and boys live in prison with their mothers until they are 3 years old. However, these facilities have no adequate spaces for their healthy growth and development. Most of the correctional centers have no maternity areas, which means that the children are in permanent contact with the rest of the prison population, are forced to share schedules and spaces with their mothers, are locked at night, and are exposed to violent situations. These girls and boys grow up with no contact with the outside world and have few opportunities to socialize with other children in adequate environments. When they turn 3, they are separated from their mothers, which has a negative impact on their development given that it involves a change of caregiver, residence, friends, and school.
The Reinserta program offers integral assistance to children in prison and tools to help their mothers hone their rearing skills and strengthen ties with their children. The program has been implemented at four correctional centers. It consists of four pillars: integral development, mother-child ties workshops, schooling for mothers, and outings and trips aimed at generating positive experiences by giving children the chance to get in touch with the outside world, of which they know little. Different workshops cover areas such as strengthening ties through games, emotion management and control with help from therapy dogs, information on basic care during pregnancy, and job training programs. The next stage of the program focuses on boys and girls who turn 3 and need to go through the experience of being separated from their mothers.
Evaluation and Impact
A monitoring and evaluation report were conducted. A 2019 report found that 87% of mothers improved their childrearing abilities and that 90% of them played more with their children. In addition, girls and boys were found to improve their language, motor, problem solving, and socio-emotional skills. The good news: in the most adverse contexts, a mother’s love is the most liberating factor.