Working with Children Who Have Incarcerated Parents

Working with Children Who Have Incarcerated Parents

— Offered by Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Social Work —

The purpose of this course is to provide social workers and other practitioners who interface with families involved in the criminal justice system with effective tools and resources to support families experiencing incarceration in federal, state, and local prisons in the United States using a strengths-based, multi-systems life course (MSLC) perspective.


Did you know that the U.S. incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world? Using the Bureau of Justice Statistics, The Sentencing Project and Equal Justice Initiative (2019) reported that the number of incarcerated persons in state and federal jails and prisons grew from less than 200,000 in 1972 to 2.2 million today.

With this in mind, this course is broken down into three modules, assessment perspectives, self-reflections through historical roots and trends, and finally case studies. The first module explores phases of incarceration and the effect on children with incarcerated family through the following assessment perspectives: MSLC, Ecological Systems or Person-in-Environment, and Strengths. Criminal justice and child welfare policies and practices are highlighted as they relate to children and families experiencing incarceration.

The second module will allow you to self-reflect through historical roots and trends of class and prejudice to evaluating your own personal worldview. Once historical context is provided, you will learn best practices of working with children in and out of foster care, how incarcerated mothers and fathers parent from prison, and the impact of incarceration on caregivers.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to evaluate cases and apply what you have learned. This training covers topics such as abuse, racism and prejudice toward marginalized groups that may be sensitive for some people. This course is recommended for anyone who works with children.


Sample Objectives

  • Identify components of the Ecological Perspective (Person in Environment) to assess the needs of children of incarcerated parents.
  • Identify components of the Strengths Perspective to assess the needs of children of incarcerated parents
  • Identify components of the MSLC Perspective to assess the needs of children of Incarcerated Parents.


Approximately 3 hours of online instruction

Access / Completion Time:
3 Months


Dr. Valandra

Dr Valandra

Assistant Professor & AAST Program Director, BA, MBA, MSW, PhD