Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Yvonne Chase


This study sought to examine what gaps existed in practice through the perspectives of correctional social workers in terms of helping incarcerated mother–infant dyads bond. Additionally, it examined whether a prison nursery was viewed as a possible option within a smaller correctional facility. Theories used to guide this study included attachment theory and separation-individuation theory, which align with the research questions that sought to explore gaps in services, supports that could be established, and program feasibility. Action research, using an anonymous online survey, resulted in N = 6 social work participants who worked as prison social workers in the northeast region of the United States. Data were coded using thematic analysis to explore latent and semantic themes. Conclusions drawn from the dataset include the restrictive nature of the prison setting being a barrier to promoting attachment. An increase in parenting classes, substance use programming, and mental health treatment was seen as beneficial for supporting attachment. Promoting childhood normalcy and having access to nature and play things was seen as integral to the development of a prison nursery program. A prison nursery was seen as feasible within a smaller correctional facility in the northeast. Potential positive social change resulting from these findings include development of specific interventions to maintain mother–infant bonding in small departments of correction.

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