Five Years Later: Final Implementation Lessons from the Evaluation of Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners. Implications for Program Designers and Curriculum Developers

05/01/2013

Examining successes and failures among the array of program models and curricula implemented by MFS-IP grantees, several lessons emerge for designing future programs in this area:

  • To reach justice-involved families at times of greatest need and readiness, begin working with participants early in the incarceration term (such as at the time of a father’s admission to prison) and continue working with them after release.
  • To maximize fit between program design and target population, deliver couples-based program components in one-time or short-term formats (e.g., weekend seminars). Also consider providing extended coursework and services to incarcerated fathers without requiring partner participation.
  • To increase the potential for personal transformation in family strengthening programs, combine family skills education with cognitive behavioral skill-building that helps participants to change their thinking patterns and emphasize the potential for positive identity development among incarcerated and reentering men through meaningful family relationships such as fatherhood.

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