Factors Associated With Young Children’s Opportunities for Maintaining Family Relationships During Maternal Incarceration*

Authors


  • *

    The research reported in this article was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R03 MH61559) and the University of Wisconsin and by a core grant to the Waisman Center from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P30 HD03352). We are indebted to Mary Ann Eaton and Jackie McRae for assistance with recruitment of incarcerated mothers in the prison and to the women who participated in the study.

**Julie Poehlmann is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1430 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706 (poehlmann@waisman.wisc.edu). Rebecca J. Shlafer is a research assistant in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (shlaf002@umn.edu). Elizabeth Maes is a research intern at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705 (queenducky1984@yahoo.com). Ashley Hanneman is a research intern at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705 (ashley.hanneman@gmail.com).

Abstract

Abstract: Children affected by maternal incarceration experience challenges maintaining continuous family relationships because of changes in caregivers, separation from siblings, and limited contact with mothers. In this mixed-method study, we investigated maternal and contextual factors associated with continuity in family relationships of children living with relatives because of their mother’s incarceration. Interviews with 92 incarcerated mothers revealed that children were more likely to live in continuous caregiving arrangements when mothers felt that the caregiver was their choice, when children lived with fathers, and when the mother-caregiver relationship was more positive. In addition, most mothers were concerned about the quality or stability of care when expressing a preference for children’s living arrangements.

Ancillary