Adults are being incarcerated in the United States at an ever-escalating rate, and child welfare professionals are encountering growing numbers of children who have parents in prison. Current estimates indicate that as many as 1.5 million children have an incarcerated parent; many thousands of others have experienced the incarceration of a parent at some point in their lives. These vulnerable children face unique difficulties, and their growing numbers and special needs demand attention.
Existing literature indicates that children whose parents are incarcerated experience a variety of negative consequences, particularly in terms of their emotional health and well being. They also may have difficult interactions or limited contact with their parents. There are also issues connected with their physical care and child custody. The many challenges facing the child welfare system as it attempts to work with this population are explored in Children with Parents in Prison. Topics covered include: "Supporting Families and Children of Mothers in Jail"; "Meeting the Challenge of Permanency Planning for Children with Incarcerated Mothers"; "The Impact of Changing Public Policy on Relatives Caring for Children with Incarcerated Parents"; "Legal Issues and Recommendations"; "Facilitating Parent-Child Contact in Correctional Settings"; "Earning Trust from Youths with None to Spare"; "Developing Quality Services for Offenders and Families"; and in closing, "Understanding the Forces that Influence Incarcerated Fathers' Relationships with Their Children".
Children and families have long struggled with the difficulties created when a parent goes to prison. What is new is the magnitude of the problem.This volume calls for increased public awareness of the impact of parental incarceration on children. Its goal is to stimulate discussion about how to best meet the special needs of these children and families and how to provide a resource for the child welfare community as it responds to the growing numbers of children made vulnerable by their parents' incarceration.