Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health

First Committee Member

Shannon Maloney, PhD

Second Committee Member

Rachel Lookadoo, JD

Third Committee Member

Abbie Raikes, PhD


As women’s incarceration rates have risen significantly in recent decades, gender-specific programs are needed to meet the needs of formerly incarcerated mothers (FIM). Although child care can be difficult to access for many families, this marginalized population faces unique obstacles to accessing child care. In order for FIM to be employed and reintegrate, they must be able to access child care; however, FIM experience unique barriers to securing child care services. This policy brief aims to identify the special considerations FIM face, as well as to explore why existing programs are not meeting their specific needs. A literature review was completed to identify relevant articles, which were analyzed for themes that give insight into the barriers faced by FIM in accessing child care after release from prison. Lack of child care support from family and friends, inadequate communication from Child Protective Service (CPS) case workers during incarceration, requirements related to criminal justice involvement and CPS custody cases, and lack of access to financial safety nets make it difficult for FIM to access child care for their children. Key informant interviews with selected experts in this field were used to add perspective to existing data in the literature. Findings can be utilized by stakeholders and public health researchers and professionals to make policy changes, develop programs, adjust and expand existing programs, and seek funding to aid FIM with trauma-informed care and intersectional sensitivity.