Children of Incarcerated Parents: Caregivers, Superheroes, and Silver Linings
Authors: Hart-Johnson, A. & Johnson, G.
Publisher: McFarland, USA
Publication Date: TBA [Target release date: Summer 2023]
Children of Incarcerated Parents: Caregivers, Superheroes, and Silver Linings, provides a focused guide about parental incarceration that takes its reader on a journey into the lives of caregivers raising children who have parents in jail, prison, or other carceral systems. This book reinforces that without question, every child needs an attuned caregiver.
In this book, the authors masterfully weave caregivers’ insights into a tapestry of chapters that provide a safe space to illuminate and understand the facts and even challenge myths surrounding parental incarceration. The authors bring to attention sensitive and uncomfortable realities of incarceration on children and their families. The book debunks the idea that most children of incarcerated parents will become system involved themselves. Rich with insights, the text delves into adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma, and emotional triggers, yet balances these perspectives and risks with insights, interventions, and recommendations that counteract adverse outcomes in support of coping strategies that contribute to children’s healthy growth and development.
Caregiver narratives provide a framework to explore how family-member incarceration and home environments might influence child-development, cognition, comprehension, and overall well-being of children and their caregivers. The text also addresses such questions as who are the caregivers and how do they communicate with young children about the topic of prisons and incarceration? The authors explain the incredible gatekeeper role that these guardians tend to fulfill in looking out for the best interest of the child. These are the superheroes who sacrifice their own comforts to provide a safe haven for children to grow, thrive, and build secure attachments. The book consistently provides an underlying ray of hope as a silver lining that many children have the capacity to build resiliency.
Difficult topics such as suicide ideation, anger, and parentification are explored through the lens of caregiver experiences, current literature, and from a multidisciplinary perspective. The language and content are presented in a user-friendly manner.
Ancillary resources to support the main text. This guidebook includes supplements to advance learning and interventions, including a companion workbook and bibliotherapy-based children’s books. The authors offer companion workbook activities that can reinforce learning through hands-on activities for caregivers and children. Readers will learn tips on discussing complex topics related to incarceration and on strengthening caregiver roles as their child’s superhero and emotional coach.
The workbook activities offer interactive engagement, reflection, journaling, and communication, and empowerment strategies. Users are sure to find reassuring approaches in the workbook to address children’s holistic needs. Through the exercises caregivers discover strategies to enhance self-care while building attachment bonds, resilience and family well-being.
The Founding Research Study
The guidebook and workbook are based on a research study entitled, Caregivers Perceptions of Storytelling as a Creative Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents, primary research conducted between 2018 through 2019, using focus group interviews with 22 parents/caregivers of impacted children, recruited from Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland (Hart-Johnson & Johnson, 2022).
Hart-Johnson, A., Johnson, G., & Hedrington-Jones, R. (2022). “Mommy, I Want to Talk to My Dad”: Exploring Parental Incarceration, Bibliotherapy, and Storybooks. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 10(11), 391-418.
Karges-Bone, D. L. (2015). Bibliotherapy. ProQuest eBook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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Avon Hart-Johnson, PhD,
Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson is a social science researcher, author, and social justice advocate. She has authored numerous self-help books and peer-reviewed journal articles. She has co-authored a series of children’s books on topics such as separation, loss, grief, and family member incarceration. Her latest publication “Children with Incarcerated Parents: Caregivers, Superheroes, and Silver Linings” explores the family system impacted by incarceration and its potential impacts on child development and ways to improve children’s long-term emotional well-being and overall health. This book will be released during the Fall of 2023. Dr. Hart-Johnson is a university educator, keynote speaker, and social justice advocate. She chairs the Advocacy in Action Coalition, a national consortium of individuals and nonprofits focused on criminal justice reform. She is the vice president of the International Coalition for Children With Incarcerated Parents and serves as chief researcher for BiblioMethods (using literature and healing narratives to promote overall well-being). Dr. Hart-Johnson has a master’s in forensic psychology, a master’s in information systems management, and a Ph.D. in human services counseling. She is a Certified Trauma Support Specialist (CTSS) and a Grief Recovery Specialist/Practitioner (GRS).
Geoffrey A. Johnson, DhL, CTSS, GRS
Dr. Geoffrey Johnson is an advocate, researcher, and author. Dr. Johnson co-founded a nonprofit organization that advocates for children and families that are adversely affected by family member incarceration. Prior to advocacy work, he served as an analyst, auditor, and criminal investigator with several agencies and departments of the federal government. He has written books providing insights into the criminal justice system and the effects of incarceration on family members. His latest (co-authored) publication, “Children with Incarcerated Parents: Caregivers, Superheroes, and Silver Linings” explores the family system impacted by incarceration and its potential impacts on child development. This book, which will be released during the Fall of 2023, is largely based upon a research study in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area from October 2018 – December 2019. Dr. Johnson was a co-principal researcher on this project entitled, “Parents and Caregivers Perceptions of Storytelling as a Creative Intervention for Children with Incarcerated Parents.” He has taught social justice students and served as a panelist at various conferences, including “Being Black and Blue” at Howard University. He has conducted workshops on reading circles and family reunification strategies for the D.C. Department of Corrections and the Anne Arundel Jail. Dr.Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in public administration, and a doctoral student in African Studies. He is a Certified Trauma Support Specialist (CTSS) and a Grief
Recovery Specialist/Practitioner (GRS).