Canada’s Mother-Child Program: Examining Its Emergence, Usage, and Current State

Sarah Brennan


One of many issues a mother must face while incarcerated is separation from her child(ren) for an extended period of time. Empirical findings have consistently highlighted various negative effects for both mothers and their children as a result of this separation. To curb some of the negative effects, Correctional Service Canada’s Mother-Child Program offers full- and part-time visitation between children and their incarcerated mothers at various women’s federal correctional facilities in Canada. The current study involves an in-depth critical analysis of Canada’s MCP by asking three related questions. First, to what extent has the MCP been used since its full implementation in 2001? Second, to what extent is the MCP used today? Third, do any barriers exist currently that are inhibiting the success of the MCP and, if so, how can these be addressed? The results of the study reveal that, since the full implementation of the program in 2001, the participation rate declined from an already low starting point and has remained relatively low since. Further, three main factors were suggested as potential barriers impeding the success of the MCP: correctional overcrowding, a more punitive institutional culture, and a series of changes to the program’s eligibility criteria. Recommendations on ways to increase the usage of the program are offered and suggestions for future research are made.


correctional visitation; incarcerated mothers; Mother-Child Program; Canada

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Canadian Graduate Journal of Sociology and Criminology (CGJSC)
Revue canadienne des études supérieures en sociologie et criminologie (RCESSC)

ISSN: 1927-9825