Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5097-0.ch006
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This chapter focuses on the role of the child life specialist working with families affected by incarceration. Children and families are at increased risk due to trauma exacerbated by arrests, incarceration, and re-entry. This chapter will focus on the ways a child life specialist working in jails, prisons, detention centers, and in communities with schools, non-profits, and faith-based organizations can provide developmentally appropriate explanations, preparation, play, expressive arts, and coping, facilitating opportunities that foster relationships and understanding while promoting resilience.
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The author of this chapter provided specific programming for incarcerated caregivers. The ideas for the role of a child life specialist outlined in this chapter originated from discussions with parents and caregivers experiencing and being affected by incarceration, as well as the author's experience and knowledge as a Certified Child Life Specialist in both traditional and community settings. This chapter describes how a child life specialist would benefit those affected by incarceration and the staff working within a corrections facility. The role of the child life specialist, as described in this chapter, could also be incorporated into schools, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations working to support those affected by incarceration or at risk for incarceration or re-entry post-incarceration.

Throughout this chapter, the author defines those affected by incarceration as individuals who have been incarcerated, children of those who are incarcerated, and families, including foster families that care for the children of incarcerated individuals. Although the chapter focuses on caregivers and parents in jails and prisons, the author recognizes that child life services and many of the interventions described would also benefit at-risk youth, justice-involved youth, and those committed to juvenile detention centers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Commissary: A “store” that incarcerated individuals can purchase with money made in prison or provided by family to purchase additional items not available from the jail or prison.

Recidivism: When a previously incarcerated individual reoffends.

No-Touch Visits: Families are typically separated by a thick plexiglass wall during visits. Visitors communicate using handheld phones attached to the wall.

Jail: Jail is a locally operated, short-term facility where justice-involved persons typically await trial and sentencing for up to 364 days and those sentenced to less than a year.

Re-Entry: A term used to define the period following the release of a previously incarcerated person from jail or prison.

Prison: Prison is a state or federally operated, long-term facility. Prisons are for incarcerated individuals sentenced to 365 days or longer.

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