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Department of Corrections Deploys Virtual Reality Technology to Enhance Programming of Incarcerated Parents and Their Children

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) Acting Commissioner George Little, along with Amachi Pittsburgh Executive Director Anna Hollis, leverage technology and community partnerships to promote healthy relationships and wealth among incarcerated parents. announced an innovative virtual reality (VR) pilot program to accelerate and their children.

The first collaboration of its kind between DOC and Wrap Technologies builds on the existing InsideOut Dads and Parenting Inside Out programs. These programs are designed to improve communication skills, facilitate emotional expression and processing, and introduce effective discipline techniques. An introduction to VR immersion allows participants to learn and practice healthy parenting skills in her 360-degree environment. Each VR interaction is guided by a lesson plan and managed by DOC staff with the ability to adapt and customize in real time.

“The overwhelming majority of incarcerated parents return to their families and communities after serving their sentences, and the DOC is committed to preparing them for success,” said Acting Secretary Little. “Practice makes perfect. Role-playing with the help of virtual avatars allows parents and children to see things beyond the walls of the facility, building stronger families and safer communities.” I hope it helps.”

Children do not need to go to a DOC facility to participate. Community providers Amachi Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) facilitate virtual reality visits for participating children and provide support services to their families.

Amachi Pittsburgh Executive Director Anna Hollis said: “VR is a new and innovative way to engage, engage new participants and stimulate learning, creativity and imagination.”

Laurie A. Corbin, PHMC’s Managing Director of Community Engagement, said: “We hope that parents and children can have a fun and educational experience and create happy memories even when they are physically apart.”

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University were appointed as evaluators for the pilot program.

“We are delighted to work with the DOC and community partners to evaluate this new and innovative program,” said Sarah Brennen of Pennsylvania State University Edna Bennett Pierce. We hope to reveal more ways for us to enjoy learning together.” The Center for Prevention Research at the University of Education and the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy.

Full funding for the VR initiative comes from the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and the Delinquency Prevention Program. The InsideOut Dads program is available at each DOC male facility. The VR component was introduced in SCI Phoenix, SCI Fayette, and SCI Frackville. VR is also available at her SCI Muncy, a women’s facility built on a similar Parenting Inside Out program.

To be eligible to participate in the VR experience, the incarcerated parent must be in the general population, be no more than three years from the minimum date, and not be convicted of a crime involving a child.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the InsideOut Dads and Parenting Inside Out programs, visit cor.pa.gov.

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