Peer Doula Program– Full spectrum services and training during incarceration
The first-ever peer doula training program to support people who are incarcerated while pregnant was launched by Chicago Volunteer Doulas in 2019 with the incarcerated people at Logan Correctional Center-- the women's prison in Lincoln, Illinois. Now expanded to include Decatur Correctional Center as of 2022.
What does a Peer Doula do?
Peer doulas will support their pregnant peers who are incarcerated during the difficult prenatal and postpartum experience in prison. CVD is committed to reducing the harm of incarceration on families caused by separation. This program is specifically designed to reduce feelings of isolation and to increase a sense of agency during such a vulnerable, yet powerful stage in their lives. Each of our peer doulas has also been matched with an experienced CVD doula to support and mentor them as they embark on this new journey. Additionally, this program will serve as potential workforce development; giving our peer doulas the opportunity to develop additional marketable skills to rely on upon release.
The first cohort of Peer Doulas conceptualized this artwork to symbolize the program, which was then created by a roommate at Logan. Thank you, Lauren Stumblingbear for this beautiful piece which hangs in the pregnancy unit at LCC where the peer doulas will meet with their clients. Rest In Peace, Bear.
Who we are: Our peer doulas are volunteering for CVD while incarcerated at either Decatur Correctional Center (DCC) or Logan Correctional Center (LCC). The peer doulas’ hobbies include reading, card games, bible study, dancing, yoga, and more. Many of the peer doulas are mothers themselves, and some have also given birth while in custody. These caring individuals have expressed that the program has already had a measurable impact in their lives and they have excitedly taken on their clients with thoughtfulness and gratitude. They have much wisdom and insight to share with both CVD and their clients, and we are so thankful to be working with all of them!
Why CVD trains Peer Doulas:
In the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), 80% of the women incarcerated are mothers and primary caregivers who have been separated from their children and families, causing significant harm and trauma to both them and by extension their children and family. While we see that a much larger-scale systems change is needed to end this inhumane practice, we view our program as a small yet vital piece of harm reduction.
Thank you to peer doula, Rita for this lovely expression of the work being done in this program. “BOLD: Beyond Obstetrics Logan Doulas”
For questions or to learn more about this program please contact the Program Coordinator, Maggie Quinn at [email protected]