Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting and Partnering, 2008-2014 [5 States] (ICPSR 36639)

Published: Nov 17, 2017

Principal Investigator(s):
Anupa Bir, RTI International; Christine Lindquist, RTI International

Version V1


This collection contains data from the Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting and Partnering [MSF-IP]. The MSF-IP is an evaluation of a grant program funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to promote or sustain healthy relationships and to strengthen families in which a father was incarcerated or otherwise involved with the criminal justice system (e.g., recently released or on parole or probation). From 2006-2011, grantees were required to serve justice-involved fathers and their committed partners with services to promote healthy marriage; they were also permitted to provide activities to support parenting and foster economic stability.

The MFS-IP evaluation was funded to document program implementation and the impact of programming on outcomes such as relationship quality and stability, parenting and co-parenting, family financial well-being, and recidivism. This collection includes data from the impact study, conducted across five grantees: the Indiana Department of Correction, the RIDGE Project (Ohio), the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the Osborne Association (New York), and the Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice. The collection includes de-identified interview data for 1,991 men and 1,482 intimate and co-parenting partners.

The interviews took place from December 2008 through August 2014. Couples were first interviewed during the male partner's incarceration (with the timing of baseline interviews not related to the man's admission or release date in most sites) and then interviewed again nine and 18 months after baseline. In the two largest sites (Indiana and Ohio), an additional 34-month follow-up interview was conducted. The interviews were similar in content at each interview wave and for the male and female interviews, but differed based on male partner's trajectory of incarceration and release over the follow-up period.

Topics within this collection include demographics, personal characteristics and attitudes, criminal history and behavior, incarceration experiences (including family contact during incarceration), program and service receipt, expectations for release, family structure and functioning, intimate relationship quality, parenting and co-parenting quality, child well-being, employment, housing, substance use, and experiences with reentry.

Bir, Anupa, and Lindquist, Christine. Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting and Partnering, 2008-2014 [5 States]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-11-17.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Contract No. HHSP23320062920YC)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2008-12 -- 2014-08

These data are being released in BETA version to facilitate early access to the study for research purposes. This collection has not been fully processed by ICPSR at this time. Once the study is further curated and given enhanced features, users will be able to access the updated version of the study.

More information about MSF-IP, and many of the resulting publications can be found at the MFS-IP project Web site.

Several training videos providing additional context and detail about the datasets can be found at the following links:

  1. Part 1: Background
  2. Part 2: Orientation to the Quantitative Datasets
  3. Part 3: Choosing the Right Variable and Sample
  4. Part 4: Other Analytic Considerations and Supplemental Data

Site-specific designs were developed to assess the impact of couple-based OFA programming--not the entire set of OFA-funded services in each site--on such participant outcomes as relationship quality and stability, positive family interactions, employment, and recidivism. The study used matched comparison and wait-list designs to compare the experiences of couples who participated in couple-based program components (treatment group members) with the experiences of similar couples (comparison group members) in the five impact sites.

The five impact sites were selected from among the 12 OFA grantees based on stability of program design, projected enrollment, program intensity, emphasis on couples-based services, and feasibility of rigorous evaluation. Common characteristics across the impact sites included (1) provision of relationship education classes to couples and (2) parenting classes delivered to men. In addition, all sites served men--most of whom were fathers--incarcerated in a state prison.

Based on the study design that was implemented in each site, men who were identified for the impact study were recruited for baseline interviews. In order to be eligible, men had to self-identify as married, in a committed intimate relationship, or in a co-parenting relationship. Men also had to be 18 or older, speak English, be physically and mentally capable of participating in an interview, and agree to provide contact information for their partners. As part of the baseline male interview, interviewers also identified a "focal child" about whom additional questions would be asked. From all of a man's children one child was selected, with priority given to children who were parented by both members of the study couple and who were closest in age to eight years old, to allow for meaningful measurement of changes in child well-being over time. After the male baseline interview was completed, the female partner was contacted. Interviews were conducted with those who consented to participate in the study. Women who were under the age of 18, did not speak English, or were not physically or mentally capable of participating in the interview were ineligible for the study. In addition, if a woman reported that a restraining order was in place or denied that she was in an intimate or co-parenting relationship with the male, both she and the male partner were considered ineligible.

Comparison group selection procedures were designed to achieve the greatest comparability possible between the treatment and comparison groups. This included screening prospective comparison group men for their interest in participating in a family strengthening program, and whether they thought their partners would be willing to participate. In addition, the "intent to treat" approach was intended to reduce bias by classifying all individuals who enrolled in the treatment--not just program completers--as treatment group members.

Longitudinal: Panel

Incarcerated men and their intimate or co-parenting partners who received OFA family strengthening programming or were selected as comparison subjects in 5 states between December 2008 and August 2012.


survey data

audio computer-assisted self interview (ACASI)

computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

A total of 1,991 eligible men completed a baseline interview. The response rate for eligible men at baseline was 82 percent (81 percent for treatment group men and 82 percent for comparison group men). A total of 1,482 eligible women completed baseline interviews. The response rate for eligible women at baseline was 75 percent (78 percent for treatment group women and 72 percent for comparison group women).

Follow-up interviews (9 month, 18 month, and, for IN and OH respondents, 34 month) were fielded for all 1,991 eligible men who completed a baseline interview, and their partners (regardless of whether the partner completed baseline). Full response rates for each follow-up and additional information regarding ineligible subjects can be found in the documentation.



Weights for selection bias, follow-up attrition bias, and combined "super weights" for each wave are included in the dataset titled "additional variables," and must be merged into the survey data. Formulas and additional information regarding these weights can be found in the documentation.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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