One Family


Strengthening families inside and outside the San Francisco County Jail



Parental incarceration is a traumatic experience for everyone involved—parent, child, caregiver and other family members. Children of incarcerated parents are especially vulnerable, often feeling angry, guilty, anxious and depressed. And, yet, such children typically receive little support to maintain their bond with their jailed parent—one of the elements known to have a positive impact on both parent and child. Recognizing the importance of stable, healthy familial and caregiver relationships to reduce recidivism and break the cycle of intergenerational criminality, One Family is revolutionizing the way justice systems approach parental incarceration—inside and out.


One Family provides family strengthening services to incarcerated parents and their families that begin in-jail and continue post-release. Working as part of a team delivering a range of case managed services, we partner with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, San Francisco Department of Probation, San Francisco Human Services Agency and numerous community-based organizations.


One Family services are available to all eligible parents at the San Francisco County Jail, both custodial and non-custodial.
Parent Education: Community Works facilitates Parenting Inside Out (PIO), an evidence-based cognitive-behavioral parenting curriculum designed specifically for justice-involved parents. PIO is offered inside the jails and at the Women’s Resource Center and Post-Release Education Program (PREP).
Contact Visits: One Family enables parents and children to visit together at the jail in supervised, supportive encounters. Having replaced the alienating “window/phone” visits with child-friendly visiting rooms, One Family promotes positive visits through an orientation curriculum and staff assistance arranging visits, trouble-shooting with caregivers and addressing emotional/psychological issues.
Family Transition Circles: Facilitated family circles are available pre- and post-release to support the healing of the entire family. Using a restorative justice approach, Family Transition Circles help the parent and family discuss the harm created by the individual, what that person can do to help heal the harm, and how to relate supportively to one another after release. Circles of Support are available to families at any time to address challenges that have arisen.
Therapeutic Services: Therapeutic services are offered to parents and families in-custody and post-release.  Providing a safe place for the parent and family to explore the circumstance leading up to incarceration is a powerful way to support the parent in breaking negative patterns and finding and sustaining their strengths.


•    One Family is the only program in the nation to make contact visits widely available rather than limit them to court-mandated parents.
•    One Family serves over 500 children annually providing approximately 250 facilitated in-custody visits.
•    The number of contact visit slots at the women’s jail has increased dramatically, as have requests for such visits by both men and women.
•    Over 1,500 parents have taken PIO, one third of whom graduated with certificates.


Sarah Carson, One Family Program Manager