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Children in Foster Care with Parents in Federal Prison: A Toolkit for Child Welfare Agencies, Federal Prisons, and Residential Reentry Centers

Children in Foster Care With Parents in Federal PrisonIn 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison on any given day, and even more have experienced parental incarceration at some point during their childhood.  Parental incarceration can be associated with financial instability, unstable housing situations, school behavior and performance problems, and social stigma.

Roughly 10% of incarcerated mothers in state prison have a child in a foster home or other state care.  Some estimates indicate that as many as 1 in 8 children who are subjects of reports of maltreatment and investigated by child welfare agencies have parents who were recently arrested.  Though there is clearly overlap between the prison system and the child welfare system, it is often difficult for prison officials to know how to help incarcerated parents stay in touch with their children in foster care and work towards reunification.  Similarly, it is difficult for child welfare agencies to know how to engage parents in prison.  The purpose of this toolkit, published by the Federal Interagency Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents, is to help facilitate communication and cooperation between child welfare agencies and federal prisons so that parents can stay engaged in their children’s lives.

To view a PDF of this publication, click here.