Mothers Unit

Mothers Units are an innovative and valuable resource for women who have to face criminal responsibility and have minor children under their care, for the children to be able to remain with their mother in a stimulating and safe environment for the children development. The AMPARA Association carries out several activities within these Mothers Units thanks to a project agreed with the General Directorate of Penal Institutions (Home Office). These activities are aimed at minors who live in prisons because their mothers are serving a sentence. The development of these activities requires the support of volunteers to accompany and facilitate learning and leisure experiences for children.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, this project was developed within the Service-Learning course of the School of Teacher Training and Education. With 18 students, this year has been one of the most demanded projects. At the same time, it has had an important involvement and commitment from the entity AMPARA, which has actively participated in some of the activities carried out at the School of Teacher Training and Education.

This project began in the academic year 2015/2016. In these two courses, has been achieved a great degree of students, faculty members, and community partner’s involvement and satisfaction. At present, some of the students in the first year continue to develop the service in the entity and it is expected that this work will also be maintained with the students of this 2016/2017 course.

mothers-unit

Social Need/s Covered by the Service-Learning Experience

  • Scope of service: Care for children at risk of exclusion.
  • The AMPARA Association organizes workshops for mothers. To be able to attend the workshops, they need volunteers to accompany their children. In addition, these children only go outside with volunteers, so their role is essential for their normal development. Only with the support of the volunteers can these children have contact with other people and go outside.
  • On weekends, the children will stay inside the prison unless the volunteers of the AMPARA Association take them out for a walk.ampara

Link the Experience to the SDGs

  • Goals: Quality Education
  • Targets: The physical, emotional and social development of children in early childhood is essential for the maturity as adults on a personal and social level. Starting from this premise, the society as a whole and the educational and social institutions involved must ensure the integral conformation of the person and promote measures that act as a compensating element for groups at social risk.

Service Objectives

  • Accompany children between 9 months and 6 years old to go to the playground so that they can go outside the prison while their mothers can participate in training workshops.
  • Facilitate stimulating and leisure experiences for children.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the educational and learning processes for the period 0-6 years old within the family, social or school context.
  • Know about the basics of early care.
  • Recognize the cognitive, psychomotor, communicative, social, and affective characteristics of early childhood.
  • Know the pedagogical dimension of the interaction of children with peers and with adults, and promote participation in collective activities, cooperative work, and individual effort.
  • Critical reflection on the following subject contents: The right to education, Equity in education.
  • Experience personal responsibility in the activities that are assumed, and initiate and rehearse their own communication and methodological style.
  • To know about the value of informal education contexts as learning opportunities for children 0-6 years old, and discover their contribution to their development.
  • Develop basic values (personal development of the student who provides the service): Self-esteem, Personal Equilibrium, Freedom, Self-control,
  • Respect, Tolerance, Empathy, Valuing the others, Justice, Solidarity, Cooperating, Equality, Peace or Right to live in peace, Health, Honesty.
  • Reflect on the differential factors of the institution where the service has been carried out (inclusion, freedom, diversity, etc.) and relate them to the social rights recognized in our country and in the European Union.

Link to curriculum

Within this framework, the Autonomous University of Madrid has found an opportunity for its students in the development of transversal or generic competences defined by the European Higher Education Area through active and voluntary participation in experiences of community service. This methodology of service-learning is part of the training of our students since 2008 and has been developed integrated into the subjects of the university degrees and in the specific course of Service-Learning that began in 2016-17. A specific course of 9 ECTS in which students receive theoretical training, participate in planning activities, reflection, and evaluation of the experience as well as the development of the service in the Mothers Unit in weekly and alternate weekends. Participation in this project allows developing skills related to teamwork, skills in interpersonal relationships, recognition of diversity and multiculturalism, critical capacity, motivation and the implementation of personal and social commitment of special relevance in training of university students.

Activities carried out for achieving the service objectives

Within this framework, the Autonomous University of Madrid has found an opportunity for its students in the development of transversal or generic competences defined by the European Higher Education Area through active and voluntary participation in experiences of community service. This methodology of service-learning is part of the training of our students since 2008 and has been developed integrated into the subjects of the university degrees and in the specific course of Service-Learning that began in 2016-17. A specific course of 9 ECTS in which students receive theoretical training, participate in planning activities, reflection, and evaluation of the experience as well as the development of the service in the Mothers Unit in weekly and alternate weekends.

Participation in this project allows developing skills related to teamwork, skills in interpersonal relationships, recognition of diversity and multiculturalism, critical capacity, motivation and the implementation of personal and social commitment of special relevance in training of university students.

Reflection

Reflection exercises:

mothers-unit-reflection

IMPACT ON OTHERS

  • Experiences
  • Different settings
  • Love, affection
  • Relationship values, respect,
  • Rules

PERSONAL IMPACT

  • Personal development improvement
  • Learn about other realities
  • Organization skills, relationships
  • Value of the important
  • Professional vocation

MPROVEMENT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

“Being more aware of this reality, the desire to fight for the elimination of social inequalities increases, as well as increases the support of children who are at risk of exclusion”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Relationship with children
  • Relationship with colleagues, coordinator
  • Personal satisfaction

TO IMPROVE

  • Autonomy to plan activities
  • Increase relationships with mothers
  • Schedule and outgoings

Partnership & Reciprocity

The coordinators of the entity and the university, maintain a continuous and regular contact throughout the school year for both organizational aspects (students who will attend, the program in which they will participate) as well as in the development of some of the learning activities developed in the faculty (day of presentation of projects and reflection activities). Both organizations show their agreement to the objectives and actions of this project development.

Student voice

With 18 students, this year has been one of the most demanded projects. Some students, specifically a group of 5 students, were actively involved in organizing activities, mentoring the rest of their classmates. Throughout the project, in turn, they showed some aspects of improvement to be taken into account linked mainly to a demand for greater participation in game dynamics and activities to be carried out with the children (final beneficiaries). The students expressed that they wanted to participate more actively in the design of the activities with the children, which are generally given by the entity.

At the same time, it has had an important involvement and commitment on the part of the entity, AMPARA, which has actively participated in some of the activities carried out at the Faculty.

Evaluation and monitoring of processes and results

Indicators of service impact:

  • Ongoing demand of students by the entity each academic year
  • Satisfaction and improvement of social competences in children (final beneficiaries)

Indicators of learning impact:

  • Continuity of the students within the project at the end of the course
  • Students consolidate interests related to community services
  • Improvement in subject grades and development of generic learning competences

Celebration of the project and its results

The last learning session was used to celebrate the end of the project. The AMPARA entity, the students and the coordination of the university participated in this day. The high level of satisfaction and the good results obtained were showed.

Dissemination activities

  • Service-Learning Conference: Presentation of the projects
  • Dissemination of projects (Doctoral Symposium in Education and other specific dissemination activities of each project)

Dissemination-Activities

Duration & Sustainability

The service lasts the entire school year. Since this project involves direct action with vulnerable children, special emphasis is placed on the students’ commitment to the entity in order to ensure the project feasibility.

Human and material resources

  • Students 18
  • Entity coordinators x 3
  • School of Education coordinators x 2
  • Facilitated by the entity for the development of activities with children (games, balls, etc.)

Budget

Free course registration, covered by the university.
Students pay out of their pocket their transport expenses to the place of service.