Pennsylvania Policymakers Examine the Impact of Parental Incarceration on Children
|February 22, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Policy, Youth Development||
Continuing with the incarceration theme…
The number of children with at least one parent in prison increased dramatically in the last decade and a half. While there are many unknowns as to the extent of this occurrence – especially among youth in foster care – a brief from the National Conference of State Legislatures, reports over 1.7 million children had a parent incarcerated within a state or federal prison in 2007. Further, between 1991 and 2007, the number of children with a father in prison increased by 77 percent while the number of children with a mother in prison increased by 131 percent.
In Pennsylvania, this growing problem caught the attention of policymakers, as resolutions in 2009 ordered the Joint State Government Commission to study the impact of parental incarceration on children, including the development of needs assessments, the identification of interventions and exploration of the nature of any barriers to services. The committee made a number of recommendations, including:
- training for criminal justice professionals on the numerous issues faced by children with parents in the justice system (from arrest through parole);
- cross-training for leaders in the educational, legal, health and social service systems who have contact with youth who have incarcerated parents about impact of incarceration on children and families and to review methods to improving cross-system coordination;
- establishment of subsidized guardianship programs for kin of incarcerated persons with children where the removal of parental rights is not required;
- improvement of both the efficiency and the cost of visiting and communications policies and practices , including making them more comfortable for children;
- the addition of programming for inmates and their families to encourage reunification, improve stability during re-entry planning and to reduce recidivism; and
- more and better data collection, data sharing and cross system collaboration around incarcerated parents and their children.
The 2011 report, The Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children: Needs and Responsive Services Report of the Advisory Committee Pursuant to House Resolution 203 and Senate Resolution 52 of 2009 is available online in PDF format. Also, another helpful resource for professionals working with children of incarcerated parents is the guide, When a Parent Is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.