Bringing Partners into the Picture: Family-Strenghtening Programming for Incarcerated Fathers. How are partners identified and located?

08/31/2009

Once a father is deemed eligible for the MSF-IP program and agrees to participate, he is asked to provide the name and contact information for his spouse or partner (typically a committed romantic or parenting partner) in the community. At most sites, program staff then contact the partner by mail and telephone with information about the program and invite her to participate.

Programs often had trouble initiating contact with partners: unanswered phone calls and letters were common. Staff attributed this difficulty locating partners in the community to several factors. Mistakes in the contact information initially shared by the incarcerated partner were frequent: staff frequently requested contact information a second time from the incarcerated participant before securing the correct address and telephone number. In other cases, contact information was simply outdated because of the lack of recent contact between the partners. Finally, some failures to make contact were attributed to deliberate nonresponse on the part of the partner. It was noted that the practice in some sites of making "cold calls" to partners, rather than having the incarcerated participant initiate contact, might contribute to lack of initial responsiveness. Staff at these sites observed that this disadvantage was balanced by a desire to avoid the potential for coercion by the incarcerated partner and ensure the emotional and physical safety of the partner in the community.

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