Child Support Recovery Unit staff experience Prisoner Reentry Simulation

CSRU staff prepare for their simulated life of entering society after being in prison.

Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is an important aspect of providing support to individuals. Iowa’s Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) staff members were able to don a new pair of shoes through the Prisoner Reentry Simulation, coordinated and delivered by the Child Welfare Research and Training Project (CWRTP) through the ISU-CSRU partnership.

Iowa State University (ISU) Trainers Jay Grey and Martha Stewart worked closely with CSRU staff to plan and execute the event, which allowed individuals to experience the real-life difficulties and frustrations of entering society after being in prison. Some of these complications included gaining transportation, finding a job, jail time, drug testing, probation officer visits, and getting all of the required tasks done in the necessary time period.

The simulation, held at the Mid-Iowa Council, Boy Scouts of America Fred Maytag II Scout Center, was offered six times, to accommodate the schedules of CSRU staff located around the state of Iowa. The simulation part of the training took place over one hour, in which four weeks were simulated.

CWRTP staff, undergraduate, and graduate students assisted in running areas of the simulation.

CSRU staff also learned about issues related to prisoners reentering society from Katrina Carter, from the Department of Corrections (DOC) perspective.  CSRU staff discussed how CSRU and the DOC can collaborate to successfully reintegrate prisoners into society. Finally, staff learned about best practices for working with incarcerated child support customers. The goal of the entire experience is that CSRU staff gain awareness and knowledge that can be taken back to their office and used when working with prisoners reentering society.

The simulation involved other CWRTP staff, undergraduate, and graduate students, who assisted in running different simulation areas (pictured). These spaces included a supercenter, pawn shop, housing, employment office, probation officer, and more.

ISU Trainer Grant Nason (aka Angel in the simulation) handled the pawn shop transactions.CSRU employees apply for identification from ISU Trainer Tyler Stricker, who managed the identification station.Aaron Fultz, CWRTP legal team member, and Katie Riley, CWRTP graduate student, supervised the individuals and situations sent to court during the simulation.