Trauma-Informed Approaches for Programs Serving Fathers in Re-Entry: A Review of the Literature and Environmental Scan

A Special Topics Study of the Parents and Children Together Evaluation, OPRE Report #2018-69
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jul 30, 2018
Robin Dion, Lareina LaFlair, Melissa Azur, Michaella Morzuch, and Angela D'Angelo

Key Findings:

  • Although more systematic research is needed, the literature suggests that trauma is common in low-income fathers with incarceration histories. Unless addressed, trauma may complicate the efforts of responsible fatherhood programs to help men achieve positive outcomes.
  • Human services programs, including those serving re-entering fathers, can implement trauma-informed care. Key steps in taking a trauma-informed approach to fatherhood program services include:
  • Make a systemic commitment to take a trauma-informed approach throughout the entire organization’s policies, procedures, and settings
  • Train all staff (including non-clinical staff ) in the signs of trauma and how to appropriately respond to them
  • Screen all program participants for signs of trauma
  • Refer fathers in need of clinical treatment to gender and culturally appropriate services

Many responsible fatherhood program participants have incarceration histories (Dion et al., 2018). Evidence is growing that many men with incarceration histories have experienced trauma early in life, and that experiencing trauma may complicate their efforts to reconnect with and support their families after incarceration. This report explores trauma in the reentry population and how responsible fatherhood programs, including those funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) in the Administration for Children and Families, can take a trauma-informed approach to the services they offer.

Appendix (June 2018)