Addressing the Needs of Children of Offenders: The 4-H LIFE Model


  • Lynna J. Lawson University of Missouri Extension
  • Robert C. Wilkerson University of Missouri Extension
  • Tammy Gillespie University of Missouri Extension
  • Elizabeth G. Dunn Impact LLC
  • J. Gordon Arbuckle Iowa State University Extension
  • L. Jo Turner University of Missouri Extension



4-H LIFE represents a promising approach to addressing the needs of children of offenders and their caregivers. The 4-H Living Interactive Family Education (LIFE) Program was established in 1999 at the Potosi Correctional Center, a maximum security prison. 4-H LIFE is an enhanced or therapeutic visitation program with three key components: 1. parent engagement; 2. parent education; 3. 4-H activities for children of offenders, led by the incarcerated parents. Since inception, 141 youths between the ages of 5 and 18 have participated; 59 incarcerated fathers and 106 caregivers have also been engaged at PCC. Program evaluations suggest that parent-child outcomes improved. In 2005, 4-H LIFE received the Annie E. Casey Foundation Family Strengthening Award.






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