Final Implementation Findings from the Responsible Fatherhood Reentry Projects
Author(s): Fontaine, Jocelyn; Cramer, Lindsey; Kurs, Emma; Paddock, Ellen; Eisenstat, Josh; et al.
Organizational Author(s): Office of Policy, Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for...
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Resource Availability: Publically available
Documents findings from an implementation evaluation of the Community-Centered Responsible Fatherhood Ex-Prisoner Reentry Pilot Projects; an initiative comprised of six programs that support fathers and their families and reduce recidivism through services and activities focused on responsible parenting, health marriage, and economic stability.
“The Fatherhood Reentry projects provided activities to fathers and their families in institutional settings as they were nearing release (‘pre-release’) and in their offices located in the community (‘post-release’)” (p.vii). The programs offered activities and services in three areas: responsible parenting, healthy marriage, and economic stability. “[T]he organizations helped participants address their reentry and fatherhood needs by using external referrals to nonprofit and government agency partners and internal referrals to services supported by other…funding streams” (p.viii). The six programs included in the evaluation were located in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
“[T]he [implementation] evaluation looked to answer the following key research questions:
· What are the characteristics of the grantee organizations and their partners? What are the level and characteristics of their interactions and relationships?
· Who are the programs targeting? How do program designs relate to or vary by the characteristics of the target population, community context, and other key factors?
· What are the programs’ strategies for participant outreach and engagement?
· What are the program models’ features? What key services do they provide?
· How are the programs and services administratively operationalized, staffed, and managed?
· What are the issues and challenges in designing, implementing, and operating the programs?” (p.viii-ix).
“From October 2011 through September 2015, the evaluation team collected data from…each program…including reviews of program materials…bimonthly teleconferences with core program staff…site visits to observe staff-selected program operations and activities, semistructured interviews with…program staff and stakeholders…and participant focus groups to clarify their perspectives on program implementation” (p.ix).
The evaluation team sought “to understand the key aspects of…implementation, such as the number and type of activities and services offered and the types of partnerships used to provide services….[and] how implementation changed over time, including changes in staff, partnerships, and service delivery locations….[T]he team noted any aspect of implementation that program staff reported as working well or being challenging as well as the methods staff found useful for overcoming implementation challenges” (p.ix).(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
“[T]he evaluation team identified five key [findings]:
• “The programs evolved over time in response to participants’ needs and local contexts. Through enrolling and serving participants, program staff came to better understand the unique needs of reentering fathers and their families…..They continuously adapted their [program] offerings to better serve fathers and their families.
• The programs implemented flexible program models with different services and activities. The programs offered a wide array of activities and services for participants and their families to take advantage of as they were ready.
• Varied approaches to implementation presented different advantages for serving participants and for system-level coordination. Implementation approaches varied by organization type and orientation, recruitment strategies, participant enrollment and service delivery start-up, service delivery and activity locations, program management and case management structures, and partner organization engagement and use. These areas of distinction are relevant to consider when funding, designing, or implementing fatherhood reentry programs.
• Partnerships were central to how the programs delivered activities and services….Partners, including government, nongovernment, and correctional organizations, were used to allow the programs to better engage with fathers in correctional facilities and in communities.
• Creative thinking helped the programs make midcourse adjustments and overcome implementation challenges. The programs encountered obstacles to serving the reentry population and partnering with multiple agencies and organizations. In response, they created their own best practices for the reentry population, modified services based on participant feedback, and regularly convened partners to discuss participants’ needs and coordinate service delivery” (p.35).
The authors “offer the following recommendations for practitioners seeking to fund, design, and implement fatherhood reentry programs in the future” (p.33).
• “Be flexible and ready to adapt program offerings to meet participants’ needs and respond to changes in policy and context” (p.33).
• “Be open to providing additional activities and services or prioritizing activities and services as needed” (p.33).
• “Meet families where they are” (p.33).
• “Build effective partnership networks” (p.34).
(Abstractor: Authors and Website Staff)
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