Methods: The studies featured in this symposium use a variety of research designs to examine the impact of parents' correctional involvement on children--from arrest, during incarceration, and upon reentry. The first study uses quantitative methods to analyze cross-sectional data from 86 jailed parent-caregiver-child triads to investigate young children's development and emotional reactions to witnessing their jailed parent's arrest. The second uses cross-sectional data from 370 incarcerated parents within state prisons to examine outcomes for children as well as parental perceptions of their child's future outlook. The third study uses thematic analysis to analyze data gathered from 38 semi-structured interviews of inmates and their families to understand children's well-being through the perspective of fathers reentering the community from prison, and co-parenting mothers or relatives. Finally, the fourth study uses growth mixture modeling with longitudinal data from 655 incarcerated parent-caregiver-child triads to examine the overall effects of parental incarceration on developmental trajectories of internalizing problems for youth while controlling for key individual and family influences.
Results: The studies point to the detrimental impact parental arrest and incarceration can have on children. Children may experience a range of issues including developmental, behavioral and emotional problems. However, strong parent-child relationships, healthy family dynamics, positive parenting, and fewer traumatic events appear to reduce the impact of a parent's arrest and incarceration on child outcomes. When questioned, many incarcerated parents stressed their children's resilience despite adversity and expressed hope about their child's future. For many incarcerated parents, reentry presented an opportunity for them to mend broken ties, recommit to emotional and relational bonds, and provide additional financial support to families.
Implications: As a first step, practitioners who work with children who have experienced parental arrest and incarceration need to be aware of the multiple challenges that can come into play for these families as well as the corresponding strengths that different children and families possess. Specifically, the studies point to: 1) the critical need for family-focused referrals and interventions which support the children of corrections-involved parents while 2) simultaneously implementing practices and policies which minimize harm, hardship, and trauma experienced by children during a parent's arrest or incarceration. Additional high quality research is needed to guide the development, refinement, and evaluation of such practices, programs, and policies.t 11758 modified by 22.214.171.124 on 5-8-2020-->