Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Criminal Justice Sciences

First Advisor

Dawn Beichner


Although parental incarceration is both a maternal and paternal issue, it is particularly detrimental to the family when the mother is incarcerated. The number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled since 1991 (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). Although there are more children of incarcerated fathers than mothers, it is particularly important to note that sixty-four percent of mothers were the primary caregivers to their children at their time of arrest (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008; Mumola, 2000). The incarceration of a mother is often more detrimental than that of the father as it typically results in displacement of children from the home and more complex issues related to the detachment from the parent (Bloom, 1993). With only 1 in 4 children of incarcerated mothers moving in with their fathers, the incarcerated mother must often find a suitable caregiver for her children during her incarceration (Mackintosh, Meyers, and Kennon, 2006).

The current study was designed to explore the experiences of these caregivers. This objective was accomplished through the distribution of a mixed-methods survey collecting quantitative data regarding caregiver's status and demographics, as well as a section devoted to obtaining more qualitative experiential narratives from the caregiver. In order to gain access to this typically undocumented population, researchers visited two female correctional centers in Illinois to request that incarcerated mothers forward the surveys to the respective caregivers of their children. The findings support the high frequency of kinship caregiver designation, which due to its informal nature has often left caregivers with little means for assistance vital to providing the highest quality care. The respondent caregivers detailed the challenges of performing their role and highlighted the strategies they used to maintain cooperative parenting with the incarcerated mother. These caregivers play a crucial role in maintaining the family during the mother's absence, and bear a considerable amount of the burdens associated with parenting.


Imported from ProQuest Anderson_ilstu_0092N_10733.pdf


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