Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Dinorah Martinez Tyson, Ph.D., MPH, MA

Co-Major Professor

Jaime Corvin, Ph.D., MSPH, CPH

Committee Member

Nikki Daniels, MSW


childhood experiences, intergenerational transmission, meaning-making, parent education programming, parental responsibilities


The World Health Organization asserts the healthy development of children is essential. Cases of violence and maltreatment impede the development of children worldwide. Six in 10 adults in the general US population have reported at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), while vulnerable populations, including child welfare-involved adults (i.e., parents and caregivers), often report more. This history is associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates alongside higher economic costs; therefore, preventing ACEs and promoting safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between parents and children is critical. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study was to understand the meanings and responsibilities associated with being a parent and the influence of past and present experiences on parenting among child welfare-involved adults who recently participated in a parent education program. In total, 26 individuals were recruited for the current study to partake in semi-structured interviews. Results indicate that intended parenting behaviors were influenced by the meanings and responsibilities participants attributed to the role of a parent, with these meanings and responsibilities derived from the past and present experiences of participants. These influential experiences were interactions participants had on the interpersonal, community/institutional, and societal levels. These results demonstrate the importance of considering the variety of experiences that influence parental meaning-making and behaviors among different populations and the need for organizations to consider these thought processes when interacting with vulnerable populations such as child welfare-involved adults.