Policies and Practices for Children of Incarcerated Parents: Summarizing What We Know and Do Not Know

  • Bryce PetersonEmail author
  • Lindsey Cramer
  • Jocelyn Fontaine


A growing body of research shows that a vast number of children in the USA have had a parent incarcerated in prison or jail. Numerous studies also indicate that these children may experience trauma and other detrimental outcomes that can be associated with their parents’ incarceration. However, there is little empirical research on the policies, practices, and programs for children that might mitigate the harmful outcomes associated with parental incarceration. This chapter discusses the gaps in the current knowledge around policy and practice, such as the lack of evidence on the efficacy of programs for parents detained in local jails or in other stages of involvement in the criminal justice system, as well as the limited understanding of how interventions may affect children, their caregivers, and the incarcerated parents differently. This chapter then discusses some of the promising interventions for incarcerated parents and their children, such as parenting classes, visitation, and mentoring. Based on the current state of the field, we conclude this chapter with proposed recommendations for research, policy, and practice.


Children Incarcerated parents Evidence-based practice Policies Parent–child relationships Visitation Mentoring Parenting classes Caregiver support 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryce Peterson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsey Cramer
    • 1
  • Jocelyn Fontaine
    • 1
  1. 1.Justice Policy CenterUrban InstituteWashingtonUSA

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