Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Dr. Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Dr. Vicma Ramos


This qualitative phenomenological study investigated the perceptions of educators and caregivers of children of incarcerated parents (CIP) regarding how CIP may best be supported and whether they receive the social-emotional support they need at school. Additionally, this study gives voice to a subject that affects many but is considered by few, and can benefit CIP, educators, and caregivers.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) framework is the theoretical structure for the study. SAMHSA’s framework includes the four Rs principles of the trauma-informed approach: realization, recognition, response, and resisting re-traumatization. The data were collected using one-to-one semi-structured interviews and field notes with participants from a school district in Western New York. Furthermore, the interviews were transcribed and coded to find common themes among the respondents’ answers.

The study resulted in three key findings: (a) the conflict between privacy and support, (b) skilled and unaware- failing to recognize educators as the first line of support, and (c) making negative assumptions. These findings aligned with the four Rs of trauma-informed approaches (SAMHSA, 2014).

Consequently, three research-based recommendations for practice were identified to improve the support CIP receive at school. The first is to deliver training to teachers in trauma-informed practices with an emphasis on CIP. The second, to incorporate trauma- informed practices with existing school-wide systems, such as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Finally, the facilitation of adult-guided peer support groups at school.

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