Families Count 2024: new resource on family structure now available

Families Count 2024 is now available

June 23, 2022

Research Snapshot: Impact of Maternal Incarceration on Family Relationships

Findings from a recent study of the effects of incarceration on mothers and their children.

June 23, 2022

The increasing rate of incarceration among women in Canada is raising concerns about stresses placed on family relationships with children, and the impact on child-rearing, pregnancy, and other motherhood experiences of incarcerated mothers.

This study was conducted to learn about improving the quality of contact and connection between incarcerated mothers and their children in Canada.

Using a combination of focus groups and one-on-one interviews, the researchers spoke to mothers who had previously experienced incarceration and others who were currently experiencing incarceration at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

Three key themes emerged: “maintaining connection,” where mothers spoke of the difficulties of staying in contact with their children; “broken bonds,” which examined the emotional and psychological toll of separation; and “the damage,” where a lack of services, transitional, and financial supports when women are released negatively impacted their abilities to parent effectively.

This research builds on our growing understanding of the Family Structure lens of the Vanier Institute’s Family Diversities and Wellbeing Framework.

Paynter, M., Heggie, C., Matheson, L., Rillie, C., & Beals, D. (2022). Maternal incarceration in a provincial prison in Canada: A qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 00, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/JAN.15154