Parenting, Prison, & Pups


Parenting, Prison, & Pups is a research partnership between The Good Dog Foundation, Pace University’s Dyson College – Department of Criminal Justice, Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), and the Westchester County Department of Correction (WCDOC).

The two-year research study will test two different methods of providing inmate mothers with skills training in parenting. Both methods will use an evidenced-based (i.e. supported through research) teaching curriculum called Parenting Inside Out, and two of the four class groups will introduce Animal-Assisted Therapy using specially trained therapy dog teams.

Therapy dogs have been shown to benefit people in a number of different ways, including:

  • Reducing anxiety and stress and increasing well-being
  • Facilitating better communications
  • Enhancing the learning environment

We expect both methods of teaching parenting skills – with and without Animal-Assisted Therapy – to be of significant benefit to program participants as well as to their families. At the end of the program we will assess what, if any, differences there are in outcomes for each method we are using.

This is the first research program of its kind, and we are excited by the potential to be supportive of incarcerated mothers. Approximately 70% of female inmates are responsible for a minor child, affecting a population of at least 1.3 million children nationally. We hope our research will show that Parenting, Prison, & Pups can enhance the bonds between inmates and their kids, reduce recidivism, and mitigate inter-generational offending patterns.

For the Family Members of our Inmate Students

This course is designed as a skills training program for incarcerated parents and is held weekly over two months. The curriculum is rigorous and requires tremendous diligence from our students.

Only women who attend all of the sessions, actively participate, and complete all out-of-class assignments, will receive a certificate of completion and graduate from our program.

Our students are working on the following skills:

Implementing Effective Parenting Styles
Effective Speaking Skills
Effective Listening Skills
Effective Problem Solving skills
Engaging in Child Centered Play
Learning The Child’s Job and the Parent’s Job
Giving Effective Directions and Encouragement
Providing Structure Through Rules, Rewards and Consequences
Going Home: What to Expect with their Children
Managing Healthy Adult Relationships
Stress Management
CPR and First Aid Certification

Our second parenting class is being conducted at WCDOC and will end during the second week of November 2017.

If you have any questions about this program or the curriculum, please contact Dr. Kimberly Collica-Cox, the Director and Lead Trainer of our program via e-mail:

Please Note:
No confidential information can be given about any of our individual students. We cannot confirm their attendance, but if you are invited to the graduation, it means your family member successfully completed the program.

The program at MCC begins again in January 2018. Please check back for updates.

You’re Invited!

MCC is hosting a Family Reunification Day and Parenting Graduation on Tuesday, March 27 from 5:30PM to 7:30PM for inmates who complete the course.

If you have a family member enrolled in our course, they will contact you directly to invite you to our special celebration, but you must be on their approved visitor’s list. If you are not on their approved visiting list, please let your loved one know so she can add you. We encourage children and families to attend and we have planned activities for our smaller children participants.

We can and should be proud of all of the women who complete this class. They are working hard for their children. They are focusing on how to make better decisions in order to improve their lives and the lives of their children. They have been making tremendous progress toward their parenting goals, and we want to acknowledge them. It is important that these women receive family support while attempting to make these changes. If you can join us, our mom students would be very appreciative. We also look forward to meeting all of the families!

This program supported in part by a grant from The Planet Dog Foundation

Icons made by Freepik from and licensed by CC 3.0 BY