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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Fred Muskal

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Louis Wildman

Third Committee Member

John Phillips


Children of incarcerated parents are a hidden and growing population in schools. Currently in California, no systematic collection of data is gathered regarding prisoners' children. In 2000, approximately 9% of school-age children had a parent involved in the criminal justice system. Parental incarceration is a risk marker school personnel can use to trigger a concern that multiple risk factors are most likely present in the life of a student. Many of these children struggle academically and socially. Sixteen interviews were conducted with adults who as school-age children had a parent incarcerated. Only one of these adults earned a high school diploma through traditional means. Schools can begin to address this population's struggle to achieve academically by providing alternative opportunities. The underlying theme found threaded through the responses was the participants' need to feel normal. Strategies exist that school personnel can use to help these children understand that they can become resilient in the face of adversity and achieve a sense of normality. Most staff development programs do not directly address the needs of this population. This research identified many of the needs of these children and some promising practices that school personnel can use when working with children of incarcerated parents.





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