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Children With Incarcerated Parents - Considering Children's Outcomes in the Context of Complex Family Experiences

NCJ Number
Rebecca J. Shafer, Ph.D.; Erica Gerrity, L.I.S.C.W.; Ebony Ruhland; Marc Wheeler
Cari Michaels, M.P.H.
Date Published
June 2013
19 pages
This issue examines the needs of children of incarcerated parents, who are often overlooked in schools, clinics, and social-service settings.
Approximately 1.75 million children in the United States have a parent currently in prison. The incarceration of a parent often results in exposure to other risk factors for developmental problems and delinquency. Given the potential long-term consequences of parental incarceration for child and adult health, targeted, evidence-based prevention and intervention efforts are needed. Questions posed and discussed in this issue are intended to assist in identifying and addressing some of the many factors that influence children's adjustment when a parent is incarcerated. Issues considered are the circumstances of the incarceration that might be particularly traumatic for a particular child; the child's age and developmental stage; the nature of the child's relationship with the parent who is incarcerated; the child's living situation without the incarcerated parent being in the home; and the nature and influence on the child of the caregiver who interacts with the child while the parent is incarcerated. Another issue that must be considered in prevention and intervention efforts on behalf of the child was whether the child has contact with the parent during the incarceration. Other issues discussed are the systematic collection of accurate data on incarcerated parents in the State and the number of children of those parents, as well as evidence-informed parenting education for incarcerated parents. 2 figures and 20 references