Parent-child contact during parent’s incarceration: A study of children of incarcerated parents in southern Ghana

Afua Amankwaa - Children and Youth Services Review


Separation due to incarceration may lead to strain on parent-child relationship, which can be curtailed through contact maintenance between incarcerated parents and their children. Despite the importance of contact maintenance to both incarcerated parents and their children, little is known about how incarcerated parents and their children in lower middle-income country (LMIC) settings maintain contact. Using a qualitative approach, this study explores children’s contact maintenance with their incarcerated parents during parental incarceration. Data were collected via in-depth interviews with children who had parents incarcerated in a number of prisons in Ghana: the Kumasi central prison, Kumasi female prison, Manhyia local prison, and Ahinsan camp prison. The present caregivers of the children were also interviewed. A thematic analysis of interviews with 17 children of incarcerated parents and 10 caregivers yielded three major themes concerning parent-child contact maintenance during parental incarceration: means of maintaining contact, obstacles to contact maintenance, and preferred means of contact by children. The study recommends the need for the state to improve regulations regarding children’s contact maintenance with their incarcerated parents. Further recommendations are made.