White House Conference Discusses Challenges Faced by Children of Incarcerated Parents

February 13, 2017

Approximately three million children in the United States have an incarcerated parent, or a parent who has been recently released from incarceration. Research shows that the challenges that these children face are substantial, including difficulty with transitioning into their adult lives, lower graduation rates, higher rates of unemployment, and a higher risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system.

On August 20, 2013, the American Bar Foundation and the National Science Foundation hosted a White House conference entitled “Parental Incarceration in the United States: Bringing Together Research and Policy to Reduce Collateral Costs to Children” in order to address the issue. Researchers, practitioners, and policymakers across the country met to review the current research, identify programs and best practices, and develop recommendations to improve outcomes. Two renowned experts in this field, Professors John Hagan of the American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University and Holly Foster of Texas A&M University, led the conferences and discussed their in-depth multi-year study that examines the effects of parental incarceration on children, their families, and their communities.

The conference is also part of the Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative, which was launched last year. The initiative involves an interagency group—composed of the U.S. Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, and Agriculture as well as the Social Administration and other stakeholders—that works together to find opportunities to support these children and their guardians.

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