Staff Newsletter | March 2021

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missouri department of corrections

Employee Newsletter   |  March 2021

Taking Care of You

Wellness & Support Programs Help Staff in Difficult Times 


The Missouri Department of Corrections makes staff wellbeing a priority. Like those working in the military, law enforcement, emergency medicine and other first-responder careers, corrections professionals encounter stress and trauma that can have a pervasive, long-lasting impact on their lives.

As part of a series of department strategic initiatives, MODOC has re-focused the Employee Health and Safety Unit with renewed attention to promoting wellness and managing mental health and workplace stress.  

The unit has launched a three-part model that aims to:

Prevent: Holistic wellness resources, services, programs and trainings designed to provide care and build resiliency in staff.

Respond: Resources and strategies designed to assist staff with unique occupational stressors.

Support: A culture that allows for ongoing support of staff, enhances their overall health and benefits their lives.



Caitlin Rudolph

Employee Wellness Coordinator Caitlin Rudolph joined the corrections team last year and began developing programs and collecting resources designed to boost corrections staff wellness in multiple areas:

  • Intellectual and financial wellness
  • Environmental and social wellness
  • Physical and nutritional wellness
  • Emotional and spiritual wellness

Wellness resources include gym membership discounts, workplace fitness challenges, personal-finance workshops, meditation sessions, vaccination clinics, crisis hotlines, a holistic wellness academy designed especially for first responders and more.

Subscribe to the WorkWell newsletter for wellness tips and the latest updates on programs and resources available to corrections staff, as well as event such as virtual and in-person wellness fairs.

Read the March 2021 issue »


Meckenzie Hayes

Employee Trauma Specialist Meckenzie Hayes started her new role last year after serving as a probation and parole officer and the state's Justice Reinvestment Initiative coordinator. Hayes oversees the Peer Action Care Team (P.A.C.T.) while also coordinating support and services for corrections staff members who have experienced trauma. Her role includes:

  • Short-term emotional support for staff until more appropriate resources are identified
  • Outreach and follow-up after a serious or critical incident
  • Assistance with locating and connecting with local resources or services
  • Assistance with applications for financial assistance through the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation (CPOF)

Services are free, voluntary and confidential.

Peer Action Care Team (P.A.C.T.)

In 2001, Missouri Department of Corrections leaders began discussing the need to establish sources of support for corrections staff who experience personal or workplace stress and trauma. Within a year, the first Peer Action Care Team (P.A.C.T.) group was formed. Two decades later, this valuable resource has served thousands of corrections employees.

P.A.C.T. members are available at each work site to provide confidential support to their peers on the job. Members receive specialized training on trauma response and vicarious trauma, the culture of corrections and suicide prevention. P.A.C.T. members always:

  • Maintain confidentiality (within limits outlined in policy)
  • Build respect and understanding
  • Actively listen
  • Display sensitivity
  • Work within established guidelines
  • Work as a team member to ensure the best possible care and outcome
  • Are open-minded with a willingness to learn

Using P.A.C.T. is voluntary. Members can provide a listening ear, assistance locating outside resources or services and information about the Employee Assistance Program (SELF). Need support? Ask any supervisor. Want to join P.A.C.T. and help your team? Contact

Pause First Academy


The Department of Corrections is investing in staff wellness by providing each team member with a FREE annual subscription to Pause First Academy. Designed for MODOC employees by a team of first responders and veterans, this online holistic wellness resource aims to help corrections professionals build resilience. Courses cover mindfulness, meditation, yoga, nutrition and more. Work at your own pace, or join the trainers for live weeknight wellness webinars. New content is added each month.

More than 800 team members have enrolled so far. To join them, send a request to

Strive Employee Life & Family (SELF)


The Strive Employee Life & Family (SELF) program (previously the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP) helps state workers reduce stress, improve health and enhance life balance. State employees eligible for Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP) medical coverage, as well as members of their households, may use the SELF program 24 hours a day. Members can access tips and resources on diet, exercise, anxiety, grief, managing finances, finding child care and more. Register online through GuidanceResources.

Show-Me Hope

show me hope

The Show Me Hope crisis counseling program provides free, multilingual, confidential support to anyone experiencing stress in response to COVID-19. This service is available to state workers as well as all other Missourians.

Call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 to speak with a crisis counselor 24/7. You’re not alone. There is hope. Visit for more information.

Coping with Anniversaries of Disaster and Loss


Anniversaries associated with tragedies, disasters and losses can have a profound effect on our emotional wellbeing, even when we aren't conscious of the impact. As we reach the one-year mark in the COVID-19 pandemic, Beckie Gierer from the Department of Mental Health speaks to state government workers about the importance of tuning into the signs of anniversary-related stress in ourselves and the people around us. Watch the webinar »



Join the Missouri Department of Mental Health each week for help with stress management. DMH CARES (Communicating and Reaching Employees Supportively) is a live, interactive wellness webinar held at 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday on WebEx for all state employees as well as their families and friends. Each week the program explores a different mental health and wellness topic and provides self-care tips. Register online at the State of Missouri WebEx site. 

DMH CARES is sponsored by Show Me Hope, Missouri’s FEMA Crisis Counseling Program.

Crisis Text Line

emergency responder crisis text line

During a stressful time in a stressful job, it's important to reach out when you need help. Crisis Text Line provides an anonymous resource designed specifically to provide crisis support to first responders. To access the Emergency Responder Crisis Text Line, just text "BADGE" to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. The service is free and confidential. Counselors are available 24/7.

Crisis Intervention Team

Steph Tandarich

To boost safety and wellness in our work spaces by aiding offenders in crisis, the department has implemented Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, an international program that originated with law enforcement professionals.

The first CIT training in the Missouri Department of Corrections was launched in 2014 at Jefferson City Correctional Center, equipping 25 staff members with the skills they need to recognize mental health issues, verbally de-escalate tense situations and prevent major crises. Administrators immediately saw a 50% decrease in uses of force. Since then the program, led by Crisis Intervention Teams Coordinator Stephanie Tandarich, has become an integral part of corrections culture, transforming how staff and offenders think about behavioral health.

Scott O'Kelley

In 2016, MODOC CIT won the the Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity, and in 2018, our three training centers expanded the intensive CIT training sessions. The department has trained 1,121 people since 2016 and currently has nearly 700 active CIT officers working in our facilities. They use their CIT de-escalation skills not only on the job but also in the community and in personal relationships. Behavioral Health Services Assistant Division Director Scott O'Kelley says the guiding principle is simple: "It's just people talking to people." He explains the purpose, training options and benefits of CIT in this video »

As an early adopter of CIT in a correctional setting, the Missouri Department of Corrections also has become the subject of research into the effectiveness of CIT in prisons. O'Kelley joined researchers Kelli Canada from the University of Missouri and Amy Watson from the University of Wisconsin in a recent study. Officers participating in the study reported that CIT skills and increased mental health knowledge helped them build rapport with offenders who have mental illness and led to improved facility safety, reduced use of force and better compliance with prison rules. You can read the full research article, "Utilizing crisis intervention teams (CIT) in prison to improve officer knowledge, stigmatizing attitudes, and perception of response options," in the journal Criminal Justice and Behavior.

More CIT training options are in development, including an abbreviated eight-hour course.

For more CIT information, contact Stephanie Tandarich.

Corrections Heroes

Human Trafficking Takedown


Two corrections staff members were instrumental in a recent human trafficking takedown that led to the rescue of six victims and the arrest of three suspects in St. Joseph.

Probation & Prole District 20 Administrator Tena Riley and Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) Investigator Katie Folsom are part of the Attorney General’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force.

Through the statewide effort, law enforcement and probation and parole officers are trained to identify signs of human trafficking and coordinate efforts to stop it. Working with representatives from 16 agencies, Riley and Folsom contribute intelligence expertise to the task force and also performed communications roles in the St. Joseph operation. “The task force is amazing; they're just so dedicated. I'm super thankful to be involved," Riley says. "Human trafficking is an all-encompassing problem. If we all work together, we’re going to make a dynamic change.”

The six people rescued in the mission included an infant and a toddler.

Sheriff Support


Corey DeClue, a sergeant at Northeast Correctional Center, earned the Award of Valor for an act of courage performed off duty.

While driving, DeClue witnessed a Pike County sheriff's deputy struggling with a crime suspect who was resisting arrest on the side of a highway. DeClue stopped and assisted, helping to secure the suspect safely and prevent injuries.

Head of the Class

Ada Farr

New Corrections Officer I Ada Farr earned the Honor Student Award from the Eastern Region Training Academy.

Farr was recognized by her peers and instructors for having the best attitude and most enthusiasm in her class of trainees. She even went out of her way to make sure fellow Southeast Correctional Center staff had transportation during inclement weather.

Serving With Distinction

Parson - Award of Distinction

Three members of the Department of Corrections team have earned the 2020 Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction, having stood out among the state’s 50,000 employees for their commitment to excellence. Governor Mike Parson recognized the awardees for their exceptional service. Watch the video »

Heroism Award of Distinction: When Chillicothe Correctional Center Captain Jerry Shafer encountered a vehicle off the road, he placed an emergency call to report it, pulled over, and then intervened in what proved to be a dangerous domestic-violence situation, protecting the victim from physical harm until law enforcement arrived.

Innovation Award of Distinction: Institutional Activity Coordinator Ashley Wells and Case Manager Hayley Joyce created the Empowering Dads Embracing Fatherhood program at Boonville Correctional Center, connecting kids with their incarcerated dads so they can spend quality time together in a positive, safe environment.

February 2021 Employee of the Month

David Grant

David Grant, a Recreation Officer II at Maryville Treatment Center (MTC), finds innovative ways to keep operations as normal as possible under exceptional circumstances. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Missouri, the implementation of a viral containment plan in all adult institutions, combined with a statewide staffing shortage, led to a reduction in some offender activities, including recreation time. As pandemic restrictions continued, Grant set out to find a better way. He created and implemented a new schedule that expanded MTC residents’ recreation time while continuing to maintain the safety and security of the facility. Grant also steps up where he’s needed to help his team, taking on extra duties as a Corrections Way ambassador as well as acting deputy warden.

Vax to the Max

Corrections Teams Get COVID-19 Vaccination

tcstl vaccine

Vaccinations are underway! Thousands of Missouri Department of Corrections team members have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as part of Phase 1B-Tier 1 of the state's COVID vaccination rollout plan. Thank you for taking this important step to protect yourself, your team and your community. If you have received the first dose, remember to keep your appointment for the second dose to achieve maximum protection.

Any corrections staff member who has not yet been vaccinated is still eligible and can still make an appointment to get the shot. You have several options.

WRDCC vaccine

We’re holding Department of Corrections regional worksite vaccination events during which staff working in adult institutions, probation and parole districts or other offices in the same region come together to receive vaccinations administered by our own employee health nurses and Department of Mental Health staff. Check with your work site’s chief operating officer for details on upcoming events.

State and local health departments are holding community mass vaccination events with support from the Missouri National Guard and local health care partners. These events are open to anyone in Phase 1A (health care workers), Phase 1B-Tier-1 (first responders) or Phase 1B-Tier 2 (high-risk populations). Find an event near you, and register online.

JCCC vaccine

As part of a federal program, supplies of COVID-19 vaccines are being provided to pharmacies at participating locations of national chain stores such as Walmart, Sam's Club, Hy-Vee, Healthmart, CVS, Walgreens and Price Chopper.

Schedule appointments through the company websites.

Offender Vaccinations Begin

The department has begun administering COVID-19 vaccinations to offenders eligible under Phase 1B-Tier 2 of the state's vaccination rollout plan. This includes offenders who are age 65 or older and those who have medical conditions that put them at risk for serious COVID-related illness. Approximately 8,000 offenders are eligible to be vaccinated in this category. BIG THANKS to Corizon nurses and facility staff who make this process run smoothly.

Making Moves

Temporary Relocations Help Ease Staff Strain

To help mitigate the effects of a statewide staffing shortage, staff and offenders at two small facilities have been temporarily relocated to nearby facilities. Staff and offenders at Cremer Therapeutic Community Center (CTCC) in Fulton have moved to Fulton Diagnostic, Reception and Correctional Center (FRDC). Staff and offenders at Kansas City Reentry Center (KCRC) have moved to Western Missouri Correctional Center (WMCC) in Cameron and Western Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center (WRDCC) in St. Joseph. The support provided by CTCC and KCRC staff at the larger facilities can help to reduce staff overtime. All offenders currently receiving substance use treatment or other behavioral health treatment will continue their programs at their new locations.

Office of Victim Services

Get to Know the Team Supporting Victims of Crime

The Office of Victim Services is a small unit tasked with working with and assisting victims of crime committed by offenders sentenced to the Missouri Department of Corrections. The unit consists of a victim service coordinator, two senior victim service specialists, two victim service specialists and one senior office support assistant. The unit registers and maintains the records of victims in an application that goes by the acronym MOVANS (Missouri Victim Automated Notification System). Registered victims receive automated notifications and offender status updates. Victim specialists also help prepare victims for parole hearings and attend the hearings with them. The unit assists victims with special requests, such as providing the supervising probation and parole district and parole officer's name upon the offender's release; providing updated photographs of offenders upon release; and assisting with no-contact orders as a special condition, if the Parole Board does not initially include them. The unit also trains new parole officers on victim issues and secondary trauma and educates prosecuting attorney offices and county victim advocates regarding the post-conviction process. In the coming months, we will introduce you to each of our staff members. If you have questions regarding victim issues, we welcome your call at 573-526-6516.

Strategic Plan

Stratetic Plan - February 2021

What are we doing? Where are we going? What does it mean for you and your job?

We’re making big progress in our three focus areas: workplace safety, workforce development and reducing risk and recidivism.

Take a look at our strategic plan and initiatives for the latest updates on the department's priorities.

Training & Development


ENGAGE 2.0 Training

New ENGAGE 2.0 trainings are available in MO Learning. All team members who have not already completed ENGAGE 2.0 training must complete these requirements. 

Training Academy Newsletter

Check out Training Academy Corner, a monthly newsletter of the Missouri Department of Corrections Training Academy, to meet new trainers and stay up to date on training requirements and course offerings. 


Improving Lives for Safer Communities


Excellence in Corrections for a Safer Missouri


We value safe work environments, a capable workforce and reduced risk and recidivism.
We value integrity and respect.
We value supportive leadership.
We value employee participation and teamwork.

Staff News

Help Build Trust on Your Team


We're working hard to retain staff and to make the Missouri Department of Corrections a great place to work. An essential part being effective in our day-to-day work is cultivating trust among teammates.


  • Be honest and supportive with coworkers.
  • Respect privacy and confidentiality.
  • Communicate openly and directly.
  • Ask for help, and offer help.