Date of Conferral





Human Services




Many children in the United States have experienced the imprisonment of a parent, given the country's high rate of incarceration. Researchers have found that such children have a higher likelihood of having health problems than do other children. However, a gap in current literature exists regarding these children's ability to acquire needed health care services to accommodate health issues resulting from the experience of parental incarceration. Therefore, the purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between these children's health status and their experience of parental incarceration. Bowlby's attachment theory, along with life course theory, constituted the conceptual framework. A nonexperimental, quantitative, cross-sectional design was used to test several hypotheses that centered on the relationships between children's special health care needs and access, as well as the likelihood that they had experienced parental incarceration. Secondary data collected through the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) was used in this study. The results of a logistic regression analysis revealed a strong relationship between the experience of parental incarceration among youth and a need for psychological counseling and treatment. In addition, the experience of parental incarceration was also a predictor of participation in state and/or federal health care programs, and somewhat increased the likelihood of receiving delayed medical care or none at all. The results reinforce the need for more effective counseling and services and better information sharing with families of incarcerated individuals to communicate the availability of such services. Such actions may promote positive social change by increasing the odds of these children's healthy adjustment into adulthood.