The Responsible Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners (MFS-IP) initiative was established in 2006 by the federal Office of Family Assistance (OFA), and required grantees serve fathers who were either incarcerated or recently released, as well as their spouses or committed partners. The grantees were required to deliver services to support healthy marriage and were also permitted to provide activities designed to improve parenting and support economic stability. From 2006 to 2011, the 12 MFS-IP sites delivered a variety of family strengthening services, including relationship skills training, parenting classes, case management, financial literacy education, and child-friendly visitation. This report describes the diverse program models and implementation experiences of the MFS-IP grantees. Information is provided on who is served by family strengthening programs, how programs build partnerships across the corrections-human services divide, how programs make family strengthening relevant to justice-involved families, and what funded communities sustained after federal funding ends. Findings indicate; grantees felt that including other family members in services would have allowed them to better serve families; partnerships with State departments of correction and correctional facilities take time to develop, but can thrive when they incorporate correctional systems’ perspectives; partnerships with community-based agencies were necessary to address families’ material needs; for many couples, focusing on healthy relationships was more salient than focusing on healthy marriage; helping families meet their material needs was key to keeping families involved in the program; and many projects continued offering MFS-IP services, whether or not they received additional federal funding. 8 tables and 35 references.
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The Implementation of Family Strengthening Programs for Families Affected by Incarceration.