What We Know Now that We Didn’t Know Then about the Criminal Justice System’s Involvement in Families with Whom Child Welfare Agencies Have Contact

Center for Social Policy and Research, Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago

In the decade since the Child Welfare League of America hosted the first National Institute on Children of Incarcerated Parents, several questions remained unanswered. What was the prevalence of child maltreatment in families involved with the criminal justice system? What were the specific needs of the children of incarcerated parents? And what happens to children as their parents progress through the criminal justice process?

This monograph answers those questions by analyzing new data from the federal National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. It finds that the type and extent of the physical, emotional and behavioral needs of children exposed to abuse and neglect, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and other risks varies according to their parents’ status in the criminal justice process. (For example: recent versus older arrests, incarcerated or on probation.)

The researchers also found that the criminal justice system has intervened in at least one in three families with whom child welfare agencies are involved. Free. 7 pages. (312) 413-2302,


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