Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Pete Meagher


AbstractThe goal with this action research project was to understand how community-based social workers (CBSWs) could address female offenders’ and their children’s needs while striving to reintegrate them into the community of Central Los Angeles County, California. Postrelease female offenders with children suffer from a variety of issues related to housing, employment, and personal childhood trauma. The trauma exacerbates the risk of revictimization and recidivism. CBSWs play a pivotal role in helping female offenders overcome barriers to successful reentry and reunify with their children. This study incorporated Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory which provided a systems lens to this project. The design used was action research with a five-person focus group. The data were transcribed and sorted into units, which were further sorted into themes. The study answered the following research question: What are the issues and challenges facing CBSWs when providing female offenders with reunification services postrelease? The CBSW participants identified four major themes that female offenders encounter: problems meeting basic needs, histories of trauma, need for specialized training, and difficulty navigating complex issues. This study informs social work practice by illuminating the complex nature of female offenders and the need for specialized training. A key recommendation included the importance of CBSWs ability to access support services that can meet the female offenders’ unique needs. Promoting positive social change can be accomplished by improving formerly incarcerated women’s services, supporting their successful reentry into the community, and helping their children flourish.