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Just Beginning is a parenting program that connects youth in the juvenile justice system with their children.

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we are A PARENTING AND VISITATION PROGRAM for incarcerated teen parents.

Just Beginning:

  • Provides hands on parenting coaching in real time during youth visits with their children.
  • Is easily implemented both in and out of detention facilities.
  • Is endorsed by probation staff.
  • Improves youth's behaviors in detention.
  • Reduces recidivism.

Through parenting instruction, structured weekly visits, and post-release support, our program enables incarcerated teen parents to maintain contact and build a strong bond with their child – providing benefits for the child, parent, and society as a whole.

Developed by the Youth Law Center of San Francisco and Georgetown University in 2008, we started in 3 Californian counties and have since expanded to:

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Incarcerated teen parents rarely receive parenting education or visit with their infants despite the long lasting benefits experienced by themselves and their children. We address this issue by:

teens how to develop a positive relationship with their child through research‐based parenting instruction.
weekly structured visits in a child-friendly environment specially designed for positive parental interaction.
the teen parent to a strong support system for the entire family as the youth reintegrates in to society.


We train enthusiastic staff from participating facilities and work with them to structure, support and implement the program. The staff meet 1‐on‐1 with teen parent, providing research‐based parenting instruction in a format accessible for all literacy levels. The teaching component is then paired with a 1‐on‐1 visit between the parent and child.

After completing OUR PROGRAM, Just Beginning graduates earn a certificate of completion which they may then use to demonstrate rehabilitation and seek an early release or transfer.
As graduates reintegrate into society, we collaborate with relevant organizations to create a supportive team to assist them on their parenting journey, including parent and family support, job training and readiness, parenting and health education, day care and child support.


Detention staff report that many of the youth in Just Beginning exhibit improved behavior and become positive role models for their peers. When youth develop a bond with their children through Just Beginning, they have increased motivation to maintain good behavior so that they can continue to participate in the program. Participants also demonstrated increased responsiveness to and engagement with their children after completing the Just Beginning parenting program, which is a strong predictor of the youth's prospects for continuing their relationships with their children after release from detention.

Children who maintain contact with their parent during incarceration have overall improved outcomes and exhibit fewer behavioral problems compared to children without contact.1
When biological fathers remain in contact with their children from birth to 3 years, regardless of whether the fathers are resident in the home or not, children show lower levels of aggressive behavior and better emotional regulation.2
Maintaining parental contact improves parents’ behavior while in custody, reduces recidivism and is an important component of successful reentry.3
1 Edin, Nelson, Paranal, 2004; Klein, Bartholomew and Hibbert 2002.
2 Vogel, Bradley, Raikes, Boller, & Shears, 2006.
3 Hairston, 2002; Klein et al. 2002 Edin et al. 2004.

Approximately 1 in 9 African-American children
and 1 in 28 Hispanic children have an incarcerated parent.

These children are one of the most underserved populations even though studies show they're more likely to struggle with:

  • mental health problems
  • antisocial behaviors
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • academic, emotional, and financial issues

When those same studies showed that maintaining contact with their incarcerated parent meant overall improved outcomes for the kids, improved behavior of the parent while in custody, and reduced rates of recidivism – the Just Beginning program was born.

“It has transformed the attitude and behavior of some of the most hard to reach kids”
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An empty gas tank is the only thing standing between some of these parents and their children.

Often families cannot afford this added expense and the young parent doesn’t see their child regularly. Just Beginning uses your monetary donations to offer gas cards, baby clothes, and diaper incentives to help defray the cost of these visits and increase their frequency. We will also gladly accept donations of new baby clothes, toys and diapers to help families in the program continue their visits.

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Have questions or want to learn how to bring Just Beginning to your facility?

200 Pine Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94104
415-544-3379 ext 3904

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