(1) The Legislature finds that:
(a) Research reveals that children who have parents involved in their lives perform better academically and socially in school, experience fewer mental health and substance abuse issues, and are less likely to commit serious crime;
(b) Strategies to address family stability and intergenerational poverty are specifically needed for children with incarcerated parents; and
(c) Research reveals that family-based reentry planning, including relationship development and housing and employment strategies, results in lower recidivism and greater family economic stability.
(2) The department shall implement a program for the purpose of providing in Nebraska adult correctional facilities an evidence-based program of parent education, early literacy, relationship skills development, and reentry planning involving family members of incarcerated parents prior to their release. Incarcerated parents of children between birth and five years of age shall have priority for participation in the program. The department may award a contract to operate the program. Such contract shall be based on competitive bids as provided in sections 73-101 to 73-105. The department shall track data related to program participation and recidivism.