News

Report: Communities Can Do More to Support Children with an Incarcerated Parent

. Annie E. Casey Foundation
.

Annie E. Casey Foundation

.

Children with an incarcerated parent often suffer emotionally, academically and financially, and too few policies consider their needs, says a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Nationwide, more than 5.1 million children have experienced separation from a parent because of incarceration — a situation that can be as difficult as dealing with abuse or domestic violence, said the report, “A Shared Sentence.”

Research shows children may experience increased mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and children of incarcerated mothers, in particular, are more likely to drop out of school.

“Our nation’s overreliance on incarceration has left millions of children poorer, less stable and emotionally cut off from the most important relationship of their young lives,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the foundation, in a news release.

A reduced reliance on mass incarceration would help families, but policymakers and communities also can take shorter-term steps to improve children’s lives, the report said.

[Related: Prison Punishes Criminals’ Children, Panelists Say]

The foundation made recommendations in three areas: supporting children directly during and after a parent’s incarceration, connecting parents to employment when they re-enter the community, and building stronger communities that promote family stability and opportunity.

Proposals to help children include:

  • Encouraging judges to consider families when making sentencing and prison-assignment decisions,
  • Helping caregivers with financial, legal, health, child care and housing assistance when they step in to care for a child,
  • Supporting community-based organizations that foster children’s well-being.

Sandra Barnhill, founder and national president of Foreverfamily, an Atlanta nonprofit that works with the children of incarcerated youth, said it is critical not to demonize parents.

“Unless we really acknowledge the important role that parent plays in that family or in the children’s life, we do a disservice to families, parents and even to re-entry,” she said.

The group organizes trips so children can visit their parents in prison, provides after-school programming for children and youth who have incarcerated parents, and offers training and technical assistance to other organizations, including a toolkit for after-school providers that is expected to be released later this year.

Barnhill said out-of-school time leaders who are looking to support children who have an incarcerated parent should be mindful of preserving families’ privacy and avoiding stigmatization. Society is not often kind or understanding about what children are going through, she added.

“We have to raise public awareness. These children cannot continue to be invisible,” she said.

Additional recommendations

To encourage employment, the recommendations include building better prison education programs, passing ban-the-box legislation and suspending child support orders.

And, to strengthen communities, the report advises building a supply of safe and stable housing.

“Leaders can take action right now to support children from the moment their families come in contact with the criminal justice system,” Scot Spencer, Casey’s associate director of policy and influence, said in a news release.

More related articles:

Report Helps Police Protect Kids While Arresting Their Parents

Comments

Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.

DONORS & DONOR TRANSPARENCY

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Search

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top