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CLFC & Reentry (Prison Recidivism Reduction)


The Creating Lasting Family Connections® Fatherhood Program was specifically created for serving adult men or women who are incarcerated or reentering the community after a period of incarceration, military service, or any other form of physical or emotional separation. In several published studies, it has demonstrated statistically significant results in improving 9 separate relationship skills and resulted in dramatically reducing prison recidivism. (Criminal Justice Policy Review)

The Creating Lasting Family Connections® Fatherhood Program: Family Reintegration is listed in the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy and was listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2013-2018). The CLFC Program was further recognized as a featured practice in SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice Newsletter and was featured in the National Criminal Justice Association’s Justice Bulletin. In 2009, the Creating Lasting Family Connections® Fatherhood Program: Family Reintegration was identified as a Promising Program by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In addition, COPES was awarded the prestigious 2010 Exemplary Award for successfully working with adult men (and women) reentering the community after incarceration. This marked the fourth time in its history that COPES received an Exemplary Award.

We designed the Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC) Fatherhood Program: Family Reintegration for both fathers and mothers to be served in separate gender-specific groups. The goal of this approach was connect-immunity (the more emotionally connected one is, the more immune to social disease one becomes). Details of the theoretical underpinnings of the CLFC program are discussed more fully elsewhere (Strader, Collins, & Noe, 2000). With the CLFC Fatherhood Program, we set out to increase relationship skills as a basis of recovery support, to provide refusal skills, relationship skills, “soft” job skills, to deepen awareness of chronicity and family recovery along with intergenerational prevention, while providing active referral and networking with aftercare programming and other peer support. We integrated what we call “Prevention and Recovery-Informed Care” services with other traditional services offered to reentry populations. Based on two separate studies with fathers and mothers served in gender specific groupings, participants showed statistically significant improvement in all nine targeted relationship skills (communication, conflict resolution, intrapersonal, interpersonal, emotional awareness, emotional expression, relationship management, relationship satisfaction, and relationship commitment; Shamblen, Arnold, McKiernan, Collins, & Strader, 2013). Further, two studies involving adult men demonstrated dramatic reductions in recidivism. Participants were three (2.94) times less likely to recidivate than comparison group participants in one study, and four (3.7) times less likely in the other (McKiernan, Shamblen, Collins, Strader, & Kokoski, 2012).

It was the integration of 30 years of prevention and treatment experience that led to this success. We started with the foundation of our evidence-based CLFC curriculum series (connect-immunity), which shares skills and information on how to (a) strengthen individuals and families, (b) increase awareness through self-reflection and review of family history, and (c) increase resiliency through emotional management, refusal skill training, and developing close, connected relationships built on clear understandings, open and honest communication, unconditional love, personal accountability, and ever-evolving levels of trust. Throughout the CLFC Program Series, we encourage participants to consider sharing program material with their children for prevention, and many of them did in our initial studies and continue to do so as other replicate our program around the nation.

Our past prevention experience enhanced our ability to bring an even broader approach of mutual responsibility to an individual with addiction (and/or incarceration) and all people involved in that individual’s life. Prevention activities often involve networking and developing community coalitions with multiple providers to access needed services (transportation, housing, child support, job readiness, job placement, and more). These programs require this type of networking support, and the CLFC Fatherhood Program helps create a platform that can tie deeply into local community systems of care.

Since prison reentry and recovering populations may have limited networks of support (e.g., family members, friends, counselors, ministers, probation officers, therapists, or other interested parties) invested in their long-term success, we created a special approach to case management and recovery management called the Joint Intervention Meeting (JIM). JIMs involve a Prevention and Recovery-Informed Care model of encouraging, supporting, and setting up accountability partners for participants in early periods of recovery or reentry when the risks for behavioral slippage are typically high. CLFC program staff and partners are trained to identify and interrupt early signs of behavioral slippage (risky behaviors). In essence, the CLFC JIM is the intentional intersection of community and personal networks to intervene in an individual’s current patterns of risky behavior (relapse/need for treatment) and prevent future risky behavior (prevention) through mutual support, accountability, and referral to needed community services.

Prevention and treatment professionals who recognize that addiction is a long-term, chronic condition and can be viewed as a family disease with intergenerational tendencies can assist with developing community-wide networks of information and support. Prevention professionals often have experience and tools to address the intellectual clarity, knowledge, and skills for the necessary behavioral changes needed across all the individual, family, workplace, and community domains, along with experience in working across the entire continuum of care from primary prevention, early intervention, treatment, and long-term recovery.

With the CLFC Fatherhood Program, prevention and treatment professionals can help co-create individual, family, workplace, and community clarity about the lifelong chronic nature of addiction and the necessity of treating the disease with a long-term, holistic individual, family, and community approach. Prevention professionals often recognize the complex genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors leading to addiction and how to prevent the progression from substance use to addiction. Professionals trained in the CLFC Curriculum Series serve with the knowledge and skills to help individuals and families intervene in addiction, support recovery, and reconnect people to recovery support when relapse occurs while providing intergenerational prevention for children.

Finally, CLFC brings in a positive focus on wellness and health, rather than sickness. Cutting-edge prevention and addiction professionals are recognizing and understanding that addiction is a chronic, family disease and that developing recovery and wellness is a holistic, environmental experience that takes place across individual, family, workplace, and community domains. The role of effective treatment and prevention professional practice is to teach and promote self-care versus “fighting” a disease at the individual level; self-care versus enabling attitudes and behaviors at the family and workplace level; and, systemic self-care, support, and health promotion through workplaces, peer support networks, school, media, employee assistance, and wellness programs and other environmental approaches at the community level.

As prevention and treatment continue to evolve in collaborative interaction to address addiction, we are seeing not only a broad intersection, but an even more complex and interactive pattern emerging for the future. The individual strands of best practice from prevention and treatment like the CLFC Curriculum Series, can be woven together into a strong rope for use along the pathway of hope for individuals, families, and communities. This rope of what we call “Prevention and Recovery-Informed Care” may be used by our participants to climb back out of the valley of addiction, up and onto the flatlands of recovery, and beyond, as individuals able to ascend the peaks of wellness toward personal fulfillment and intergenerational improvement.

CLFC Teaches Effective Skills for Reentry Men and Women

CLFC openly embraces and gently addresses many of the most critical concerns and challenges faced by the reentry population, including reconnecting with family and children, responding effectively to a variety of pressures from work, family, friends and others, and managing the deep gulf of painful emotions like guilt, shame, fear and powerlessness that often comes with making a “whole-life” shift from prison to the community.

In two quasi-experimental research studies with comparison groups conducted by Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) and McGuire & Associates, the adapted version of CLFC achieved statistically significant improvements in all 9 of the following targeted measures:

Some of the most promising and statistically significant research that emerged from our work with reentry men and women were drastic reductions in prison recidivism. Two separate quasi-experimental studies showed that participants in the CLFC Fatherhood Program were 3 to 4 times more likely than comparison group participants to not go back to prison. That means more parents remained at home with their families and children.

In addition to the quasi-experimental research studies, respondents to CLFC retrospective surveys analyzed by McGuire & Associates showed the following results:


Reentry Participant Testimonials

Here is what some of our past reentry participants have said about the CLFC program:

“I was before this program a passive person. During my participation in COPES I learned that expressing your feeling or validating someone else’s feelings is very helpful in having a positive relationship with friends of family or even complete strangers. I have spent a lot of years incarcerated and I honestly believe COPES will be a very important tool to my re-entry into society and my success in life.”
— Leonard M.

“I would like to thank the people who took their time out to show me a better way of living. One big thing I have learned is dealing with my kids. That has been a big help to me and how I can be a better partner and how to deal with people in the world today. I love what I have learned and I use it in my everyday life. I would like to thank the staff here and God bless the people on this staff.”
— Trenity Acklin

“COPES has taught me to deal with life struggles. It has taught me to be humble and to better cope with my family’s character defects, as well as my own. COPES is a very encouraging, and life lesson. I’m glad I was a part of this program because it has taught me to live a better way of life.”
— Derrick Stevenson

If you are interested in using the CLFC program to serve reentry populations, call or email COPES at (502) 583-6820 or tstrader@sprynet.com.