Pictured above is Karen Call, MSW.
Dr. Audrey Begun advised Karen's thesis.
The number of incarcerated women has increased over 400 percent in the past 20 years. Over 80 percent of incarcerated women are the mothers of minor aged children. Upon release, these mothers face many overwhelming challenges with their children’s caregivers as well as the child welfare system as they struggle to regain custody. The three research questions that guided this study are (1) Is race/ethnicity related to incarcerated mothers’ perceptions of appropriate childcare? (2) Does the amount of time mothers spend away from their children correlate to their perceptions of appropriate childcare? (3) Does the age of incarcerated mother’s children relate to their perceptions of appropriate childcare? This study uses a cross-sectional design to examine 85 mothers’ opinions regarding appropriate childcare using the Childcare Opinions Questionnaire (COQ). Women were recruited from 7 correctional facilities across the state of Ohio. The larger study, on which this report is based, includes collecting parallel COQ data from community caregivers of these mothers’ children and eventually from child welfare workers in the state of Ohio. The mothers’ scores will be related to demographic variables (e.g., number of children, ages of children, time living with/apart from their children) using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). In addition, this study also examines one month test-retest reliability using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Using one-way ANOVA, race and ethnicity, as well as children’s ages was shown to be related to mothers’ ratings on some components of the COQ. The amount of time a mother has spent away from her children appears to have no correlation to her COQ ratings. Inter-item reliability was high for all but one component (exploitation). ICC demonstrated a greater than desirable variability across COQ test administrations, though most of the scores were in the moderate to strong agreement range. The results will be used to inform jail and prison-based parenting education programs for incarcerated mothers, to train child welfare workers engaged with this population of families, and to develop resource kits for the community caregivers of the children during a mother’s incarceration. The test-retest analyses will inform further research using the COQ instrument.