TOPEKA — The Kansas Insurance Department and the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner are sponsoring a program to help federal penitentiary inmates and their families improve their financial literacy.
The “Read to Me, Dad” project is a pilot program that provides inmates at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, KS, with financial education on a variety of topics. Classes take place over a four-week period and are taught by volunteer professionals. More than 20 inmate fathers and grandfathers signed up to participate, according to Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance, and Shannon Santschi, Director of Investor Education at the Securities Office.
“Fathers haven’t forgotten about their financial obligations that will need to be addressed upon release,” said Commissioner Selzer. “The men participating in ‘Read to Me, Dad’ are eager to gain knowledge and insight into budgeting, saving, banking and improving their credit. The program also provides children and grandchildren of inmates an opportunity to connect with their parents or grandparents through financially-themed literature. This program fosters literacy and financial capability in vulnerable populations in an effort to break the cycle of incarceration.”
Volunteer professionals have been recruited through the MoneySmart KC network and the Kansas Insurance Department. Modules from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Money Smart financial education program provide the foundation of the financial course. Following the financial course completion, inmates will read and video-record two financially-themed stories for their children. The accompanying books for the children are being provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
“‘Read to Me, Dad’ provides a financial education service to both inmates and their children,” said Santschi. “It is a program that connects positive ideas within the family. So far the response to the program by inmates has been very positive — most men are asking for more opportunities to learn about managing their money.”
For more about the program, email Shannon.Santschi@ks.gov.