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Strength in Families

the Strength In Families logo which is a parental figure and child outline that appears to be painted on a canvas.

The Strength in Families (SIF) program is an intensive, evidence-based, parent engagement program for fathers under Washington DOC jurisdiction (starting during incarceration and continuing into the community). SIF staff educate fathers in areas of positive parenting and healthy relationships and communication. SIF staff also support fathers in family engagement and reentry planning.


The Strength in Families program originated in 2015 under the Responsible Fatherhood Opportunities for Reentry and Mobility (ReFORM) grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Although grant funding ended in 2020, the Washington State Department of Corrections continues to fund this program.

The Strength in Families program focuses on building skills and knowledge in the following key areas: healthy relationships with partners and co-parents, responsible and positive parenting, and effective communication. Participants complete Parenting Inside Out and Walking the Line and receive individualized case management services to assist them in family engagement and planning for reentry to the community. These interventions increase public safety, build healthy families and tackle family legacies of crime and incarceration.

The SIF program is currently based on the west side of the state. The program targets fathers and father figures releasing from Washington Corrections Center (WCC), Stafford Creek Corrections Center (SCCC), Cedar Creek Corrections Center (CCCC) to counties in Western Washington: Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum.

Eligible participants must be a father or stepfather to one or more children (aged birth to 18 years) who are 36 months or less to their transfer/release into the community. SIF participants spend an average of 1.5-3 years in the program where they receive instruction and support. Program services are available to eligible persons regardless of race, gender, age, disability, or religion.

Mission & Vision

The Strength in Families program supports the Department's statutorily required mission and vision in the following ways:

Mission: “To partner with reentering parents in the development of skills and knowledge that focus on positive parenting, healthy relationships and economic stability in order for parents to create safe, stable and nurturing environments for children and families.”

Vision: “We envision children living safely at home, having positive relationships with parents and care-providers, and being supported by families who have the skills and access to resources and services needed to thrive.”

What the Research Says

The effects of incarceration on children and families are far-reaching. Research suggests that having an incarcerated parent can present individual and environmental risks for a child and increase the likelihood of negative impacts relating to physical, psychological and emotional well-being. The main purposes of the Strength in Family’s program is to strengthen positive relationships within families who are affected by incarceration and assist those families in developing a safe, stable and nurturing environment for their children.

SIF participants report their top reasons for joining the program are to be a better father, find housing, go home to their family, become a better communicator and get a job. Their top biggest challenges at release are influences from old friends/acquaintances, finding a job, lack of housing, and handling Legal Financial Obligations.

Strength in Families Participant and DOC Father Populations at a Glance

  • 45% of men under the jurisdiction of WA DOC are fathers.
  • 72% of DOC fathers serve a prison sentence of 7 years or less.
  • Approximately 40,876 children have a father within the jurisdiction of DOC.
  • Approximately 20,375 mothers/child’s guardians have a father co-parent within the jurisdiction of DOC.
  • 82% of Strength in Families (SIF) participants are between the ages of 25-44 years.
  • 52% of SIF participants’ highest degree achieved is GED or they have no degree/diploma.
  • 45% SIF participants were not employed prior to incarceration or were engaged in illegal or under-the-table employment.
  • 55% of SIF participants were homeless prior to incarceration.
  • 54% of SIF participants were not in a committed relationship prior to incarceration.
  • 67% of SIF participants have not seen their children in over a year or more.

*Encompasses DOC and SIF information gathered on November 1st, 2023 for the purposes of the WA State Fatherhood Council- Fatherhood State of the State Study (releasing June 2024).

How to Apply

DOC staff or the incarcerated individual’s support network (family/friends/co-parents/etc.) can email SIF staff via the Strength in Families mailbox to inquire about an individual’s eligibility for the program.

To apply for the Strength in Families program, eligible incarcerated individuals may request facility staff email their Applicant Questionnaire form to the same SIF mailbox.


For more information on the Strength in Families program, see the below resources.