In recent years a number of programs have been initiated to provide incarcerated fathers with education and training in parenting skills. This chapter reviews research, theory and the evolving practice of such programs, including experiences of 125 inmates who have participated in parenting classes while in prison. The psychosocial and social needs of incarcerated fathers; recruitment and barriers; program goals; evaluation strategies; and a summary of core information to guide program development are presented. Common characteristics of imprisoned fathers and various prison parenting programs are described, as well as the rationale for such programs. Specific recommendations for designing and implementing parenting programs are described within various contextual frameworks and theories, and a course outline is offered. Among the core findings are that the bond between fathers and children is both deep and fragile, while the co-parenting relationship with the mother is often contentious and difficult. Incarceration provides a unique opportunity to help fathers become better parents, but parenting classes in jail must be coordinated with other social services inside prison, during the transitional release period, and after the incarcerated father is reestablished in the community. Numerous references, 1 table.
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