• Dec 2011/Jan 2012
  • Vol. 12, No. 9

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Supporting Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers

Twelve programs around the country were funded beginning in FY 2007 under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners (MFS-IP) grant program. Grantees are using funds to develop services to foster positive family relationships, improve outcomes for children, and reduce recidivism for fathers. Research briefs from the national evaluation of these grantees highlight strategies that combine traditional approaches with innovative efforts to build collaborations between the criminal justice system and human services agencies to strengthen father-child relationships, coparenting, child-family visitation, and communication.

Research Brief #5, Parenting From Prison: Innovative Programs to Support Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers, describes the grantees' challenge of finding curricula addressing the specific needs of incarcerated fathers. Many programs adapted parenting courses not specific to this population, and four grantees developed and implemented original curricula.

Keeping FAITH, established by the RIDGE Project in Ohio, developed original curricula focused on fathering from prison, teaching participants how to give advice without being controlling, and dealing with children who struggle with communication. Fathers Connecting With Children, a New Hampshire program, developed a course to guide fathers through scenarios that prepare them for reuniting with children after release.

Grantees spent considerable time focused on the importance of coparenting, and all programs offered family strengthening and relationship-building services. Recruiting coparents was a challenge, and strategies for addressing that challenge included:

  • Contacting coparents through multiple means
  • Emphasizing to coparents the benefits for the child or children
  • Providing participation supports such as transportation assistance, child care, etc.

Find the link to this research brief and previous research briefs from the National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners here:

http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/08/MFS-IP/index.shtml

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