Case Support

Impact on Children With An Incarcerated Parent


  • Children and Families of Incarcerated Parents Advisory Committee Annual Report (2010) – Report

This report to the Washington State Legislature and Washington State Governor makes recommendations on how to improve services to children, incarcerated parents, and families experiencing and impacted by parental incarceration.  It also reports  progress on recommendations; including, but not limited to: surveying statewide resources and needs for these families and providing technical assistance via toolkits to local governments.


OTHER RESEARCH (in alphabetical order)

  • Characteristics of Incarcerated Fathers and Mothers – Kjellstrand (2012) – Research

Child Youth Serv Rev. (2012 December) 34(12): 2409–2415

Mothers and fathers were similar on a number of dimensions including age, education-level, number and age of children, and family criminal history, but differences were observed on key variables relevant to outcomes for children and families, including employment history and income, substance use, mental health, trauma experiences and criminal history. Implications for prevention programs are discussed.

  • Childhood Disrupted – Volunteers of America – Meyerson, et al. (2010) – Research

Despite the explosive growth in the number of mothers who are in prison—and the potentially devastating effects of this incarceration on future generations—there are, at present, only a handful of prisoner reentry programs in the U.S. that are specifically designed to support incarcerated mothers and their families. The purpose of the Look Up and Hope initiative is to address this critical gap in services. Five pilot sites with a strong history of service to incarcerated women and their families—Volunteers of America Dakotas, Volunteers of America Illinois, Volunteers of America Indiana, Volunteers of America Northern New England and Volunteers of America Texas—are currently involved in designing and implementing the initiative.

  • Children’s Contact with Their Incarcerated Parents – Poehlmann (2010) – Research

Am Psychol. 2010 September ; 65(6): 575–598.

In this article, the researchers present a conceptual model to provide a framework within which to interpret findings about parent– child contact when parents are incarcerated. They then summarize recent research examining parent–child contact in context. Finally, they present initial recommendations for children’s contact with incarcerated parents based on the research presented and suggest areas for future intervention and research with this vulnerable population. Published in Journal of American Psychology, 2010.

  • Children’s Contact with Incarcerated Parents: Implications for Policy and Intervention. – Poehlmann-Tynan (2015) – Research Brief

Having contact with incarcerated parents through visits, phone calls, and letters has long been considered important for family well-being during and following incarceration, yet few researchers, practitioners, or policymakers have considered this issue from the child’s perspective. Recent research has shown that the link between parental incarceration and trauma symptoms can be mediated through the quality of parental-visitation experiences. Published in Focus Fall/Winter, 2015-2016.

  • Children of Parents in Jail or Prison – University of Pittsburgh (2011) – Report

Many small-scale studies have looked at issues related to children’s contact with parents in jails and prisons. Despite methodological limitations, such as small sample size, these studies provide some insight into how a parent’s incarceration can affect such issues as a child’s development and behavior, those who care for them at home, and family resources. Special report starts at page 5.

  • Impact of Incarceration on Families – DeHart, et al. (2017) – Research

This report reviews a single-jurisdiction pilot study, in which the researchers identify qualitative themes regarding impact of incarceration in the lives of prisoners and their families

  • Incarceration and Family Relationships: Examining the Nature of Family Involvement Among Inmates – (2010) – Research

This fact sheet provides data on the nature of family involvement among inmates. It presents research on factors that strain family relationships (in both the context of romantic relationships and parenting) when one partner is incarcerated. It also describes some of the efforts underway to maintain marriages and parent-child relationships during incarceration.

  • Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children – Glaze and Maruschak (updated 2010) – Research

The findings in this report are based on  self-reported data collected through personal interviews with prisoners participating in the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities (SISFCF), which is comprised of two separate surveys. One survey is conducted in state adult correctional facilities and the other is conducted in federal correctional facilities.

  • Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children – Maruschak, Bronson, and Alper (2016) – Research

The findings of this report are based on self-reported data collected through face-to-face interviews with a national sample of state and federal prisoners age 18 or older in the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI).  Highlights include: Nearly half of state prisoners (47%) and more than half of federal prisoners (57%) reported having at least one minor child. In state prison, about 58% of females were parents with minor children, compared to 46% of males. An estimated 19% of minor children with a parent in state prison and 13% with a parent in  federal prison were age 4 or younger.


  • Child Welfare Practice with Families Affected by Parental Incarceration – (2015) – Practice Report

This Children’s Bureau bulletin for child welfare professionals provides an overview of the scope of the issue; highlights practices to facilitate parent-child visits during incarceration, include parents in case planning, and work toward reunification; and points to resources to help caseworkers in their practice with these children and families. 

  • Oregon Commission for Women’s Incarcerated Parents Report – Foxen (2015) – Policy Report

This paper discusses three key policy areas regarding incarcerated mothers and fathers in Oregon: prison nurseries and community-based residential parenting programs; foster care laws; and parenting programs for incarcerated fathers. After reviewing background and best practices associated with policy implementation in each area, this paper explores ways in which policymakers, stakeholders and advocates might address each policy area in Oregon, and suggests the formation of a legislative task force to address these issues.

  • Shared Sentence, A  – The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2016) – Policy Report

More than 5 million U.S. children have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their lives. The incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence. But while states spend heavily on corrections, few resources exist to support those left behind. A Shared Sentence offers commonsense proposals to address the increased poverty and stress that children of incarcerated parents experience.

  • Separated Children and the Child Welfare Concerns Fact Sheet (2018) – Report

This publication from the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare includes frequently asked questions about separated children and the child welfare system.



  • Prison Visitations Policy: A Fifty-State Survey – Boudin, et al. (2013) – Law Review

This law review presents a summary of the findings from a survey of prison visitation policies in the fifty states and in the system run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The lives of prisoners and their families are deeply affected by visitation policies and, to date, there has been no comprehensive effort to compare these policies across all of the fifty states.



  • Incarceration’s Impact on Kids & Families – The Vera Project – (2018) – Article
  • Responding to Parental Incarceration As a Priority Pediatric Health Issue – Elizabeth Barnert, M.D. and PJ Chung, MD (2018) – Article-Commentary