University of Vermont

College of Education and Social Sciences

Doctoral Programs in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Talia J. Glesner: Programming for Families Impacted by Incarceration: An Ecological Exploration (2014-03-21)

Glesner, Talia J. | Decision Theater, Farrell Hall | 2014-03-21 | 2:00 p.m.

The purpose of this dissertation is to learn how the ecological perspective can describe such a program with the intent of learning how to develop an evaluative tool that utilizes the framework that incorporates development and context. This study describes a state-wide Vermont program, Families Behind Walls that works with families of incarcerated mothers through ecological terms. The impacts of incarceration ripple far beyond the lives of the inmates, and extend to their families and the larger community. Programming, and the evaluations of those programs, have not fully accounted for such complexity. The use of the ecological perspective embraces complexity and context.

Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with current program staff, community partners, and caregivers to the children of the incarcerated mothers. Program documents were collected as well. Documents and interviews were analyzed through the ecological lens.

Collected data illustrated the program's effmis to address the problems that can be described through elements of the ecological perspective, and conditions that promote development. Informed by the ecological perspective, elements emerged that enabled evaluation of program strategies and outcomes. This study remains small in scope and exploratory in nature; a formative exploration into a new evaluative process.

Implications of the work indicate that the ecological perspective can be useful in developing and implementing evaluations in alignment with the missions of programs. Practical implications indicate the active involvement of stakeholders in evaluation development and strengthening the interconnectedness of system. Recommendations for practice and study are outlined.

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