Upbringing and Well-being of Children of Incarcerated Mothers

Drs. Sanne Hissel

Prof. dr. Catrien Bijleveld (promotor), prof. dr. Carlo Schuengel (promotor), prof. dr. Peter van der Laan (promotor), dr. Mirjam Oosterman (daily supervisor), dr. Menno Ezinga (daily supervisor).

In the last ten years the number of imprisoned women in the Netherlands increased from 400 to 800 (in 2007). Estimated half of these women have underage children (Slotboom, Bijleveld, Day & Van Giezen, 2008). This implies that the number of children in the Netherlands with an incarcerated mother has probably increased too. It is assumed that the mother is often the primary caregiver (Ezinga, Hissel, Bijleveld & Slotboom, 2009; Murray & Farrington, 2008). Therefore these children have to deal, apart from the separation from their mothers, with one or more changes in caregivers. They may end up in situations where the upbringing is organized in complex manners.  Research shows that children of incarcerated women are exposed to numerous risk factors (Murray & Farrington, 2008). It is however unknown whether these children are damaged because of the detention of the mother or due to other pre-existing factors. Another question to be answered is in which caregiving situation children of incarcerated mothers are functioning best. An important question in this regard is if the mother and the caregiver are supporting or undermining each other in their caregiver roles. With this in mind, the purpose of this project is to focus on the relationship of incarceration and delinquency of the mother, the well-being of her children and the functioning of the caregiving network. This project runs from August 2009 till August 2013 and is carried out by Sanne Hissel. She participates as a PhD-student in the Phoolan Devi Institute, a collaboration between the department of Special Education of the VU University Amsterdam and the NSCR.