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Date of Award

6-2017

Document Type

Restricted Project: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Social Work

Department

School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Shon, Herbert

Abstract

Parental incarceration is a serious problem in the United States, due to the significant number of parents and children impacted by incarceration. The sizable number of individuals incarcerated in the United States has resulted in the development of forensics as a growing field that requires social workers to integrate a working knowledge into their professional practice. The researcher hypothesized social work students who had personal and/or professional experience with the criminal justice system have a more favorable attitude towards incarcerated parents and are more willing to work with this population. Quantitative data was collected via surveys constructed and administered through the online Qualtrics data collection program from a sample of 79 social work students attending a school of social work at a university in Southern California. The data was analyzed using a Chi-Squared statistical analysis test using the SPSS data analysis software program. Significant findings were found that supported the hypothesis. A significant relationship was found between the status of having visited someone in jail or prison for personal reasons, as well as having someone close who was previously incarcerated, along with having the willingness to work with children of incarcerated parents in the future. Also, a significant relationship was found between a participant’s ethnicity, wanting to work with children of incarcerated parents in the future, with believing incarcerated parents and their children are an underserved population, and believing social workers are an important part of the rehabilitation process for incarcerated parents. Participants’ gender and the belief incarcerated parents could benefit from learning parenting skills was also found to be significant. This study also found having personal experience with incarcerated individuals may impact a social work student’s willingness to work with incarcerated populations. Lastly, the results and findings of this study contribute to the body of research focused on introducing social work students, who have a willingness to work with incarcerated populations, to the field of forensics with the goal of increasing the number of social workers working with incarcerated parents.

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