Kept in the Dark: Exploring Children’s Preparation for Parental Incarceration and Reentry

Diane S. Young, Carrie Jefferson Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Parental incarceration is a challenging and pivotal experience for families. Efforts to prepare children can hinder or promote children’s abilities to adapt. Objective: This study addresses the research question: How informed and prepared are children for parental incarceration, family reentry, and re-incarceration? Methods: Fourteen young adults shared their experiences related to childhood parental incarceration and family reentry through individual interviews. Findings: Regardlessof the parent’s stage of criminal justice involvement – arrest,incarceration, reentry, or re-incarceration, participants reported receiving very little information about what was taking place, why, or what they could expect. Conclusions: Small efforts to prepare and inform children were perceived to be helpfulas children. Resources and brief interventions that mitigate this experience of being kept in the dark are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • children of incarcerated parents
  • families and incarceration
  • parental incarceration
  • reentry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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