Published on: Oct 1, 2020

What do incarceration, migration or deportation, and military deployment have in common? All are likely to separate a child from their parent, which has implications on a child’s well-being.

Penn State’s 28th annual Symposium on Family Issues will focus on these specific circumstances of parent-child separation and the effects on families. The virtual symposium, “Causes and Consequences of Parent-Child Separations: Pathways to Resilience,” will take place Oct. 26 - Oct. 27.

According to research, the circumstances of parent-child separation have become increasingly evident in the social and political context of the 21st century, and certain societal factors have increased the numbers of youth who are experiencing separation from their parents. Symposium speakers will discuss the impact that separation has on a child, as well as the factors that promote family well-being in the midst of separation.

The first session will take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 26 and will focus on understanding the effects of separation due to migration or deportation on parent-child relationships, children’s development, and family functioning. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, professor of economics at the University of California, Merced, is among the three experts who will present on this topic.

Two sessions on Tuesday, Oct. 27 will address parental military deployment and parental incarceration, respectively.

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, professor of human development and family studies and director of the Military Research Institute at Purdue University, will speak about the implications of parents’ military deployment for their children. Wadsworth will discuss factors that increase or mitigate risks for child adjustment, as well as policies that best support military families.

The last session will examine the factors behind increasing incarceration rates and the implications for family functioning and the well-being of children who have incarcerated parents. Jennifer Copp, assistant professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the Florida State University, will be among the speakers for this session.

The virtual symposium is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit the 2020 Family Symposium. A recording of the symposium will be made available following the event. Any questions or concerns may be directed to Carolyn Scott, at

To learn more about previous symposia and the Family Symposium book series, see the Family Symposium Book Series.

The Family Symposium series is funded in part by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and sponsored by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute, Population Research Institute, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, Child Study Center, as well as the departments of sociology and criminology, human development and family studies, psychology, biobehavioral health, anthropology, and agricultural economics, sociology and education.

News Topics: Family Symposium