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


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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