Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

Academic Discipline

Community Psychology

First Advisor

Bradley Olson, PhD

Second Advisor

Tiffeny Jimenez, PhD


Children of incarcerated parents (CIP) represent one of the most vulnerable, at-risk populations in the United States (Johnston, 1995). Best estimates suggests there are 2.7 million children with an incarcerated parents and African-American children are disproportionately represented at a figure of 1 in 9 children (Glaze & Maruschak, 2008). Much of the research attempting to understand this population and guide intervention efforts has employed a deficit-based approach, highlighting the plethora of adverse risk factors and negative outcomes associated with being the child of an incarcerated parent. This approach fails to acknowledge the presence of resilience inherent in these youth. The exploratory mixed methods research utilized in this project includes a quantitative (Study 1) and qualitative (Study 2) component. The two studies attempt to better understand protective factors and resilience in CIP. Situated in a strengths-based approach, the first study utilizes a multi-measure survey of CIP to examine the relationship between academic achievement, parent-child contact and subjective psychological well-being (a construct of resilience). Study 2 utilizes qualitative in-depth interviews with caregivers of CIP to further understand perceptions of how the preceding factors affect youth from the caregiver’s perspective. Findings from these two studies suggest mixed perceptions of parent-child contact as a protective factor that promote resilience in CIP. Implications from findings are explored and discussed.