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Children of Incarcerated Parents

  Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools    


  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    
  • Working with Incarcerated Parents and their Children to Achieve Positive Outcomes
    This free peer-to-peer webinar was organized by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections for the National Association of State Foster Care Managers. The webinar featured presentations from Iowa and New York, which addressed child welfare system collaborations with Departments of Corrections (DOCs). Iowa presented information about engaging incarcerated parents at the state level and at the local level through the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility Project. Iowa discussed issues of training, barriers, and lessons learned regarding the local pilot child welfare system-DOC collaboration, as well as the State-level DHS-DOC collaboration undertaken as part of Iowa’s Program Improvement Plan implementation. New York, in partnership with The Osborne Association’s New York Initiative for Children of Incarcerated Parents, presented on achieving permanency and well-being for children of incarcerated parents. New York presenters discussed the importance of visiting and maintaining relationships to achieving permanency and well-being for children/youth in foster care with incarcerated parents, and shared information about televisiting as one strategy for maintaining connections, as well as the role of kinship caregivers and foster parents as critical partners. The NY presentation provided information about Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) collaboration with the NY State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, as well as NY Chapter 113 of the laws of 2010, which highlights discretion when considering termination of parental rights and other issues related to incarcerated parents and parents in residential substance abuse treatment with children in foster care. The webinar closed with a question and answer/discussion period. (June 4, 2013)

  Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools    

  • Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration Toolkit by Sesame Street
    The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. It can bring about big changes and transitions. Sesame Street is tackling the topic of parental incarceration with this new toolkit. This toolkit package, which consists of stories, tips, and activities for caregivers and kids, is designed to act as an educational outreach initiative for families with children (ages 3 – 8) who are coping with a parent’s incarceration. (2013)
  • When a Parent Is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers
    The goal of this publication is to provide relevant and practical information for public child welfare agencies and social workers when working with incarcerated parents and their children, including a chapter on immigration. This primer also outlines the many compelling reasons why child welfare agencies should develop programs and policies specifically to address the needs of this subset of children in the child welfare system. This publication was authored by Yali Lincroft and Ken Borelli and is available through The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2011)
  • Virtual Visitation and Child Welfare
    This article explores the use of technology in rural areas to facilitate visits between separated parents and children, and the possibilities for child welfare agencies. It specifically describes the use of virtual visiting to maintain contact between prisoners, their children, and families. It was published in a special issue of CW360° on Child Welfare and Technology (beginning on p. 19). (2011)

    See also the Spring 2008 issue of CW360° on Children of Incarcerated Parents.
  • Broken Bonds: Rise June 2010 Web Exclusive
    In this web exclusive from Rise Magazine, Delia Hernandez writes about her experiences being separated from her children due to incarceration, visiting with her children, and learning that her children haven’t had the opportunity to visit one another, as well as the steps she is taking to try to change the situation. Rise Magazine is written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system. Its mission is to help parents advocate for themselves and their children. (2010)
  • Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Bill of Rights
    The San Francisco Partnership for Incarcerated Parents has created a Bill of Rights for children of incarcerated parents. The document includes specific strategies that the child welfare system can take to improve outcomes for children who enter foster care or kinship care or are adopted when their parents are incarcerated.
  Research & Reports    
  • Children in Harm’s Way: Criminal Justice, Immigration Enforcement, and Child Welfare
    The articles in this collection provide a multifaceted look at some of the problems that potentially arise for children when the criminal justice, immigration enforcement, and child welfare systems converge in their parents’ life. They provide information and offer insights reflecting diverse perspectives and experiences and lay out a range of policy and practice reform recommendations. This resource was jointly published by The Sentencing Project and First Focus. (2013)
  • Child Welfare: More Information and Collaboration Could Promote Ties Between Foster Care Children and Their Incarcerated Parents
    Federal law sets timelines for states’ decisions about placing foster care children in permanent homes, and, in some cases, for filing to terminate parental rights. Some policymakers have questioned the reasonableness of these timelines for children of incarcerated parents and expressed interest in how states work with these families. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine: (1) the number of foster care children with incarcerated parents, (2) strategies used by child welfare and corrections agencies in selected states that may support contact or reunification, and (3) how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have helped these agencies support affected children and families. GAO analyzed national data, reviewed federal policies, interviewed state child welfare and corrections officials in 10 selected states that contain almost half of the nation’s prison and foster care populations, and visited local child welfare agencies and prisons. On the GAO website, you can access the Highlights Page, Full Report, and Recommendations. (September 2011)
  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    
  • Getting Reacquainted with a Parent
    This video column by Makeba Lavan, available on the Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars website, focuses on the issue of reunification. The webpage explains: “Getting reacquainted with a parent can be daunting at any age. Add the pressure and stigma of a reunion post incarceration, and the effects can be overwhelming and particularly stressful. These tips can hopefully start someone facing this situation on the path to a healthy relationship.” (2010)
  Resources from the States    
  • Oklahoma: Children of Incarcerated Parents Task Force
    This report from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth provides findings and recommendations from a survey developed to assess the number of children with an incarcerated father in Oklahoma. (2012)
  • Oregon: Children of Incarcerated Prisoners Project
    The Oregon Department of Corrections aims to improve the outcomes for children who are elevated risk for being incarcerated themselves. The website includes a guide for caregivers titled "How to Explain Jails and Prisons to Children."
  • Pennsylvania:
    The Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children: Needs and Responsive Services
    In Pennsylvania in 2009, House Resolution 203 and Senate Resolution 52 directed the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to: study the effects of parental incarceration on children; recommend a system for determining and assessing the needs of children of incarcerated parents, services available to them, and barriers to accessing those services; and, report recommendations to the House and Senate. In accordance with HR 203 and SR 52, this report focuses on measures aimed at ameliorative intervention, mitigating the negative impacts of parental incarceration on children, and assisting children with incarcerated parents in becoming healthy, productive, and responsible adults. (December 2011)

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Last updated 8/18/14