This paper examines stressful factors in relationships between imprisoned fathers and their children that point to the risk of child abuse and neglect. An innovative family support services program, Parents in Prison, is also described. This program is housed at the Tennessee State Prison for Men. Developed in response to inmates' recognition of the need for child abuse and neglect prevention services relevant to men who are in prison, the program model has potential for becoming a major service delivery stategy. Leadership for Parents in Prison is provided by an inmate committee which receives consultation and assistance from a community advisory board and an institutional sponsor. Program components--correspondence and classroom courses, monthly events featuring community guest speakers, and family-focused social activities and projects--address family needs during incarceration and upon return to community living. These diverse components and the flexible service delivery format permit widespread inmate participation not readily available in a prison setting. Parents in Prison successes demonstrate that the period of incarceration can be used to improve parental skills and knowledge and to strengthen family relationships. They also demonstrate the viability of a family support service which relies on inmate leadership, community volunteer participation, and institutional support. The future success of this model depends on replication in other prison settings, dissemination of the program products which have been and continue to be developed, and rigorous, systematic examination of the impact that participation has on child abuse and neglect problems associated with a father's incarceration. 13 references. (Author abstract modified)
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