4-H LIFE is a collaboration between MU Extension and the Potosi Correctional Center to create a strong, healthy and nurturing family environment for children while helping their incarcerated parent become a positive role model. The 4-H LIFE Family Club meets from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of every month at the correctional center. Like other 4-H clubs, children and parents, along with caregivers, work on projects, demonstrations and other activities to develop children's skills in communications, decision making and problem solving.

In addition, parents receive training to develop the skills they need to have a positive relationship with their child.

Participant eligibility requirements

Youth: Ages 5 to 18, participants must be able to visit the correctional center without any legal or social service restrictions and must meet the Missouri Department of Corrections criteria for entering a correctional center. This includes some form of state identification and written permission on file from the Missouri Department of Corrections from the child's legal guardian to participate in the 4-H LIFE program.

Adult: Offender must contact the institutional activities coordinator for specific eligibility criteria for their facility and complete the enrollment process and interview. If selected, the offender must complete a 4-H parenting class prior to participation in the 4-H Family Club visit.

Program components

The goal of the 4-H LIFE program is to provide a strong, healthy and nurturing family environment while helping the incarcerated parent become a positive role model.

The target audience for the program is incarcerated parents and their children, grandchildren, and other family members. The program consists of three components:

  • Parenting skills class — Incarcerated parents who participate in the 4-H LIFE program attend regularly scheduled parenting skills classes to develop and improve the skills needed to interact in a positive, age-appropriate way with their children.
  • Planning meeting — At the monthly planning meeting, the incarcerated parents work with MU Extension faculty and Department of Corrections staff to help design and plan the 4-H youth and family activities for the upcoming 4-H family/club meeting.
  • 4-H LIFE family club meeting — The 4-H LIFE family club meeting takes place monthly during visitation at the correctional center. Children, their incarcerated parents, and caregivers work together on traditional 4-H activities such as arts and crafts, demonstrations and other curricula-based activities focused on topics such as communication, decision making, and problem solving. Working together as a family on 4-H activities gives children an opportunity to show their parents their ability and intellect. It also gives the parents an opportunity to show their children that they can provide capable and caring parental guidance.

Caregivers and guardians are encouraged to contact 4-H LIFE program staff to inquire additional information.

Lynna Lawson at lawsonl@missouri.edu, or
Robert Wilkerson at wilkersonrc@missouri.edu or 573-438-2671.