28th Annual National Symposium on Family Issues

Date 10/26/20 to 10/27/20
Location Virtual: Details to follow
Contact Carolyn Scott
Contact Email css7@psu.edu

Causes and Consequences of Parent-Child Separations: Pathways to Resilience

A little girl hugging her military father and holding an American flag.The 28th Annual Symposium on Family Issues focuses on circumstances of parent-child separation that have become increasingly evident in the social-political-economic context of the 21st century, namely parental incarceration, migration and deportation, and military deployment. In sessions addressing these three broad domains of parent-child separation, speakers will consider the societal factors that have given rise to increasing numbers of children and youth who are experiencing separation and the implications of separation for their well-being. Special emphasis will be placed on factors, such as family and community resources and supports, that promote youth and family well-being in the face of separation, and on the processes through which these and other protective factors give rise to positive functioning in youth and their families. Speakers also will highlight the implications of their research for evidence-based programs and policies that foster youth and family resilience.

The Family Symposium will be held virtually. More details to follow. Please register at the link below.


Monday, October 26

Session 1: Parental Incarceration

The sharp increase in incarceration over the past several decades has led to unprecedented numbers of children experiencing parental incarceration. Although fathers are much more likely to be incarcerated than mothers, the number of children with incarcerated mothers has also risen rapidly. This session will examine the factors behind increasing incarceration rates and the implications for family functioning and the well-being of children and families. Attention will also be given to protective factors or resilience processes that may buffer children from some of the potential negative consequences of parental incarceration.

  • Kristin Turney, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Irvine

  • Jennifer E. Copp, Assistant Professor, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University

  • Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Dorothy A. O'Brien Professor of Human Ecology, Professor of Human Development & Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Session 2: Parental/Familial Migration and Deportation

A hispanic father embracing his son.Families around the world are impacted by migration. Some migrate together in search of better opportunities and safer environments. Others are separated, sometimes for years, as individual family members move away. Reunification of these separated families is challenged by mismatched labor markets and immigration policies that make moving across borders expensive or dangerous. Migrant families may also be separated through deportation efforts that remove undocumented migrants from their children and family members who have documented status or are citizens of their destination countries. This session will focus on understanding the impacts of these separations on parent-child relationships, children’s development, and family functioning as migration involves more and more families globally.

  • Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced

  • Joanna Dreby, Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies, University at Albany, State University of New York

  • Jodi Berger Cardoso, Associate Professor of Social Work, Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston; Kalina Brabeck, Professor, Counseling, Educational Leadership and School Psychology Department, Rhode Island College


Tuesday, October 27

Session 3: Parental Military Deployment

Launched in 2001, the Global War on Terrorism is the longest war in U.S. history. With this war have come changes in the composition of the U.S. military force: Whereas in prior eras, the military was comprised largely of young single men without dependents who were drafted into service, today, more than half of the women and men in the nation’s all volunteer military force have children. And the duration of the current conflict in combination with the smaller overall size of the military has meant that deployments to combat and other regions of the globe have been longer and more frequent than before, meaning that large numbers of children are experiencing multiple and extended periods of parental separation. Speakers in this session will address the implications of parents’ military deployment for their children, including factors and processes that increase and mitigate risks for child adjustment, and programs and policies that best support military families with children.

  • Abigal Gewirtz, Professor and Director, Institute of Translational Research in Children's Mental Health, University of Minnesota

  • Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth, Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Director, Military Family Research Institute, Purdue University

  • John A. Fairbank, Professor and Co-Director, UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Duke University School of Medicine, and Director, Veterans Affairs Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center

Registration is required

* Attendance is Free for Penn State students and employees
* Registration for students and post-docs from other universities is $50
* Registration for all others is $90

We are not able to accept credit cards. Please make checks payable to "Penn State".

Mail check to: Barbara Rigg, Social Science Research Institute, Penn State, 114 Henderson, University Park, PA 16802

Symposium Sponsors

The Symposium on Family Issues is sponsored annually by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R13 HD048150).

Also see:

Family Symposium Homepage
Family Symposium Book Series

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