In this talk, we will present a novel conceptual framework that specifies how malleable factors from the familial and larger social environment may intervene in the risk pathway to result in the successful socialization of these vulnerable children. This framework guides our new NICHD-funded study of 150 preschool-aged children of parents with a history of incarceration, the Raising Our Children (ROC) study. At the time of the SPR conference, we will have data from approximately 75 participants, and will share preliminary results.
Our framework integrates the protective and compensatory models of resilience. We use the protective model of resilience to posit that parents’ attainment of economic self-sufficiency and maintenance of supportive social networks will attenuate the impact of their risk history (of mental health problems, substance abuse, and incarceration) on the stability of the environment they create for their children (an interaction effect).
We use the compensatory model of resilience to posit that other caregiving relationships (e.g., with the other parent, a grandparent, or another relative) may offset some of the negative impact of the risk pathway originating from the formerly incarcerated parent’s history (a direct, opposing effect). As another type of alternative caregiving, participation in center-based childcare may also counteract risk from the relationship between the child and the formerly incarcerated parent.
We will articulate how this study’s identification of the naturally occurring resilience mechanisms can be useful for developing effective program and policy interventions to prevent the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behavior. This could include programmatic interventions within the juvenile justice system (e.g., enabling the pursuit of postsecondary education), and in the community (e.g., parent support programs focused on culturally-relevant parenting strategies), as well as policy-level interventions (e.g., reducing systemic barriers to employment and housing for former offenders, facilitating their access to affordable center-based childcare).