National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Re-Entering Fathers and Their Partners: Program Models of MFS-IP Grantees. Program Models


An important goal of the MFS-IP evaluation is to document the various service delivery approaches of the grantees. All sites, for example, plan to deliver some type of formal marriage education curriculum, usually a stand-alone course, delivered to the couple jointly or separately. The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) is the most common curriculum (Table 3). In addition, almost all grantees plan to deliver parenting courses, typically to the male participant. There is substantial variability, however, in the other services offered and the modality of the service provision.

Table 3.
Marriage Education Curricula Used among MFS-IP Grantees
Curriculum No. of Sites*
Caring for My Family


Couple Communication


Exploring Healthy Relationships and Marriage with Fragile Families


Married and Loving It!


The Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills (PAIRS)


Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP)


Non-commercial curriculum developed in house


* Note:  The number of programs exceeds 12 because one program is delivering two curricula.

About three-quarters of the sites offer services such as case management and/or couples counseling (classified very inclusively). Fewer than half of the programs offer an employment component, assistance with visitation, and/or support groups. Services offered in a few sites include financial literacy, education, moral reconation therapy, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence treatment, or mentoring programs for children. The grantees also differ in the point at which services are delivered. MN CCJ begins corrections-based services immediately upon intake to prison; other programs either enroll incarcerated individuals within a specific time before release or, more commonly, at any point during incarceration. Eight programs offer some post-release services; case management is the most common.

The variability among the sites on programmatic components and delivery format is a necessary requirement for the identification of programmatic models that distinguish sites from one another. In classifying the sites into a small set of meaningful program models, it was evident that the most substantial sources of variation among the programs pertained to the scope and delivery format of services provided to program participants. In this classification, "scope" refers to whether the program focuses exclusively on healthy relationship and parenting services or includes, as part of its core programming, a broad set of services relevant to the target population (e.g., reentry services, employment readiness, substance abuse treatment, and other services). "Delivery format" refers to whether the program is primarily curriculum based or employs case management or other individualized services (e.g., family counseling or "coaching" services) in addition to some core curricula.

Based on a combination of these two key dimensions (scope and delivery format), the programs were classified into three primary models: (1) curriculum-based programs focused on family strengthening, (2) curriculum-based programs with some case management or family counseling, and (3) case management-based programs with a holistic focus. It is important to note that the three program models  subsequently described in more detail  do not reflect program quality or intensity. All three models have advantages and were thoughtfully chosen by the grantees to reflect the needs of the target population, taking into consideration existing services available and the climate within which the programs are implemented. In addition, it is important to note that program classification may evolve over time, as grantees refine their plans because of early implementation experiences.

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