Bringing Partners into the Picture: Family-Strenghtening Programming for Incarcerated Fathers. What services do the grantees offer?


All of the MFS-IP grantees delivered family-strengthening services to men incarcerated in correctional facilities and provided some programming to the spouses or committed partners of these men (Table 1). Most of the programs selected commercially available curricula, including the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), Caring for My Family, Exploring Healthy Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families, Married and Loving It, Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS), and Couple Communication. Two sites delivered in-house curricula specifically designed for use with their target populations: Back to the Family, developed by Centerforce staff, and Keeping FAITH, developed by RIDGE Project staff.

Table 1.
Key Services Offered to Partners of Incarcerated Fathers
Grantee Key Services Offered to Partners
Centerforce Relationship and parenting skills workshops (individual and group), case management, coaching
Child and Family Services of New Hampshire (NH CFS) Couples marriage/relationship education seminars, family reentry planning
Indiana Department of Correction (IN DOC) Couples marriage/relationship education seminars
Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota (SD LSS) Couples marriage/relationship education seminars, case management
Maryland Department of Human Resources (MD DHR) Marriage/relationship education courses, parenting skills development, employment assistance
Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice (MN CCJ) Marriage/relationship education courses, case management, parenting education, financial skills education, housing placement assistance, employment assistance
New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJ DOC) Couples marriage/relationship education courses, case management, parenting education, financial skills education
Oakland Livingston Human Services Association (OLHSA) Couples marriage/relationship education courses, family reunification planning, case management, parenting education, crisis intervention, support groups
Osborne Association Couples marriage/relationship education seminars, couples counseling
Texas Arms of Love, d.b.a. People of Principle (TX POP) Couples marriage/relationship education seminars
RIDGE Project (OH RIDGE) Couples marriage/relationship education courses, support groups, mentoring
Shelby County Division of Correction (SCDOC) Couples marriage/relationship education courses, case management

All of these curricula address the three basic components of marriage/relationship education as required by OFA: improving communication between couples, improving individual couples' ability to resolve their conflicts, and strengthening a couple's commitment to increasing marital or relationship stability. As an example of curriculum content, the text box provides information about the PREP curricula, which six grantees chose to use.

Spotlight on Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP)
Six MFS-IP grantees chose to use PREP's Within My Reach or Within Our Reach curricula, which are specifically targeted to low-income families, for their marriage/relationship education courses or weekend seminars.
  • Within Our Reach is a program designed to help couples achieve their goals in relationships, family, and marriage. The curriculum is designed to build on the existing strengths of the couple and add critical life and relationship skills to help participants create safer, more stable couple relationships, and by extension, better environments for their children. Unit titles include "We've Got Issues"; "By My Side: Supporting Each Other"; "You, Me, and Us"; and "Connecting with Community."
  • Within My Reach is a program designed for individuals that covers three major themes-Building Relationships, Maintaining Relationships, and Making Relationship Decisions. Unit titles include "Healthy Relationships: What They Are and What They Aren't"; "Knowing Yourself First"; "Dangerous Patterns in Relationships"; "Commitment: Why it Matters to Adults and Children"; and "Reaching Into Your Future."

Most grantees offered couples-based programming, with partners coming into the correctional facilities. However, a few offered parallel programming, serving partners in the community and serving fathers in correctional facilities. Programs generally provided relationship education to the father and his partner, some also provided parenting skills workshops, and some included financial skills development or employment workshops. A number of grantees also provided certain program components, such as case management, to both members of the couple jointly in the community following the release of the incarcerated partner.

Why Involve Partners in Services for Incarcerated and Reentering Men?
Selected Research Evidence:
  • Analyzing data from 500 delinquent U.S. boys followed from 1940 to 1965, Laub and colleagues (1998) determined that those who maintained good marriages were 68% less likely to commit criminal offenses as adults.[2]
  • Bersani, Laub and Nieuwbeerta's (2008) analysis of data from a sample of 5,000 Dutch men and women enrolled in the Criminal Career and Life Course Study suggests that the association between strong marriages and reduced criminal offending may persist across sociocultural contexts and is more robust for contemporary couples than for couples in earlier generations.[3]
  • Visher et al. (2009) found that, among a subsample of 652 released men returning to 3 U.S. cities, those who were married or in committed cohabiting relationships were half as likely to report engaging in drug use and/or committing a new crime at 8 months post-release compared to those who were uninvolved or in noncommitted relationships.[4]

View full report


"rb.pdf" (pdf, 199.42Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®