Promoting the Economic Stability of Fathers with Histories of Incarceration

Publication Date: April 18, 2017

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Introduction

This brief, one of three in a series, describes activities the Community-Centered Responsible Fatherhood Ex-Prisoner Reentry Pilot Project (Fatherhood Reentry) programs used to foster economic stability for participating fathers and their families. The brief presents recommendations, based on an implementation study of the Fatherhood Reentry projects, for practitioners implementing economic stability activities for the reentry population.

Purpose

People with incarceration experiences face well-documented difficulties achieving economic stability because of personal challenges such as lack of work experience or limited hard and soft skills. They also face systemic barriers, such as employment discrimination. Fatherhood Reentry programs implemented services specifically designed to help fathers find and secure employment and become more financially stable. The purpose of this brief is to document the economic stability activities programs offered and share recommendations for practitioners interested in helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated fathers reach self-sufficiency.

Key Findings and Highlights

Economic stability activities implemented by the Fatherhood Reentry programs were intended to help fathers achieve self-sufficiency and facilitate family reunification by

  • improving fathers’ employability through curriculum-based workforce readiness classes and vocational training and certification services;
  • increasing fathers’ financial literacy and improving their financial prospects through curriculum-based financial literacy classes and assistance with building and managing their income and benefits;
  • providing fathers with various employment opportunities, such as transitional job opportunities and positions within microbusinesses operated by the programs;
  • engaging in employer networking and relationship building to increase employment opportunities for participants; and
  • reducing or removing barriers to economic stability and self-sufficiency commonly experienced by individuals reentering the community through referrals to substance abuse, housing, and legal assistance services, and the provision of workplace essentials (e.g., clothing, identification, and transportation).

Methods

From October 2011 through September 2015, the evaluation team undertook an implementation study of Fatherhood Reentry programs. Team members engaged in many data collection activities, including reviews of program materials and documents, bimonthly teleconferences with core program staff to discuss program implementation and key modifications, site visits to observe staff-selected program operations and activities, semi-structured interviews with a broader set of program staff and stakeholders to gather data on implementation, and participant focus groups to clarify their perspectives on program implementation.

Recommendations

This brief offers several recommendations for practitioners implementing economic stability activities for the reentry population.

  • Cast a wide net to find partners that can help the reentry population become more employable.
  • Offer a flexible range of economic stability services to be responsive and adaptive to participants’ needs.
  • Be willing to advocate for the reentry population with employers.
  • Build credibility with employers by communicating and demonstrating the benefits of program participation.
  • Focus on removing and reducing barriers as a critical component of economic stability.

Citation

Fontaine, Jocelyn, and Emma Kurs (2017). Promoting the Economic Stability of Fathers with Histories of Incarceration: Activities and Lessons from Six Responsible Fatherhood Programs, OPRE Report #2017-04, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

KISRA:
Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action, Inc.
LSS:
Lutheran Social Services
NJDOC:
New Jersey Department of Corrections Office of Substance Abuse Programming and Addiction Services
PB&J:
PB&J Family Services, Inc.
RIDGE:
The RIDGE Project, Inc.
Rubicon:
Rubicon Programs, Inc.
FBF:
Fathers Building Futures
CDL:
commercial driver’s license
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