Bringing Partners into the Picture: Family-Strenghtening Programming for Incarcerated Fathers. Introduction

08/31/2009

Recent research suggests that the partners and families of incarcerated men are an important resource for men's successful reentry into society. However, programming to support couple and family relationships through incarceration and community reintegration is relatively rare. The Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Re-Entering Fathers and Their Partners (MFS-IP) were designed to meet this need. Administered by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these programs provide services to families during and after a father's incarceration to enhance family functioning and improve reentry outcomes.

This brief documents implementation challenges and lessons from the grantees' first 2 years of program operations. Information gathered through site visits for the national evaluation suggests that the challenges to involving partners in family-strengthening activities are significant and involve every component of the program: recruiting partners, retaining partners, serving partners in correctional facilities, and working with partners in the community.

It is anticipated that these grantee experiences will be helpful to faith-based and community organizations, human services agencies, and correctional systems that are developing programs to assist families affected by incarceration. Future implementation reports, which will be based on additional years of program operations, will document additional challenges and lessons learned.

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