National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage, and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Re-Entering Fathers and their Partners: Program Overview and Evaluation Summary. Evaluation Components


The evaluation has been designed to answer the following research questions:

  • What are the defining characteristics of the grantees and their programs?
  • What lessons can be learned from program implementation?
  • How successful were the programs at achieving the desired outcomes?
  • To what extent do the interventions appear to have a positive impact?

In addressing these questions, the evaluation includes an implementation assessment and an impact evaluation.

The implementation study primarily assesses the inputs, throughputs and outputs of the projects. It will characterize all 13 programs along a variety of dimensions, including program design, contextual factors shaping program development, project structure, target population, service model, interagency collaborations, and challenges and lessons learned. The primary sources of data for the implementation assessment are in-person interviews with local stakeholders (conducted through annual site visits) and administrative data.

The impact study, which will be conducted in five of the 13 sites, will assess the effectiveness of the MFS-IP programming on participant outcomes. These include marital stability, relationship quality, positive family interactions, family financial well-being, and recidivism. Outcomes will be assessed through longitudinal data collection for both the incarcerated individuals, their partners and through administrative data matching. The impact study will include approximately 2,000 couples across the five sites. Initial in-person survey data collection will take place at baseline. Additional interviews are planned for nine months and 18 months after baseline. There is a potential for a fourth wave of data collection at approximately 25-27 months. The interview will gather detailed data on the background characteristics (e.g., demographics, attitudes, motivation, criminal history, relationship history) and service provision (e.g., types of services received, delivery format, number and duration of sessions). In addition, at each interview point, outcomes will be assessed along several dimensions, including

  • relationship quality and stability,
  • parenting and child well-being,
  • employment and economic stability, and
  • criminal behavior and substance abuse.
Impact sites will be chosen using the following criteria:
  • Sufficient program intensity and provision of couple-based relationship services
  • Sufficient projected enrollment to support a treatment and control group
  • Programs stage of implementation indicates a stable program design
  • Evaluation design possibilities, such as opportunity for random assignment or the identification of an appropriate comparison group, are strong

A site-specific study design will be developed for each impact site.

The analyses of the impact data will focus on differences in intermediate and long-term outcomes between treatment and comparison or control couples. The role of individual- and couple-level factors on outcomes will be considered, as well as programmatic dimensions and other site-level factors that may influence program effectiveness.

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