About Us, for Us, with Us: Collaboration as the Key to Progress in Research, Practice, and Policy
While much of the previous research on incarceration focused on demographics, recidivism, and other important topics, the devastating effects of mass incarceration on children and families were largely overlooked for the first decades of this phenomenon. Recently, however, there has been an increased focus on the loved ones of those who are incarcerated, especially their minor children, yielding a growing body of research on and about children with incarcerated parents, much of it drawing from large data sets to study the effects of a parent’s incarceration. This chapter aims to demonstrate that while much of this research is tremendously valuable and has advanced both a national attention to and an initial examination of the many facets of this crisis, in order to fully understand, serve and support these children, we must consult the true experts—those who have experienced being the child of an incarcerated parent. Arguing for an inclusive, respectful, humane, and humble approach, we assert that researchers, practitioners, and policymakers must regard collaboration as a vital piece to any undertaking concerning children with incarcerated parents. In essence, we argue for research, practice, and policymaking that honors and practices the tenet: “nothing about us, without us.”
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