Infants and Young Children with Incarcerated Parents
Drawing on attachment theory, a bioecological systems perspective, and a resilience framework, this chapter explores what is known about the experiences and well-being of infants and young children with incarcerated parents. We emphasize developmentally salient issues in infancy and early childhood for children impacted by the involvement of their parents in the criminal justice system, especially attachment processes and behavioral and cognitive functioning. Special attention is given to contextual and social factors related to incarcerated parents and the caregivers who provide for children while their parents are incarcerated. Research gaps are identified, with suggestions for future scholarship that could further inform relevant policy. Finally, given the dearth of empirical data for this population and the somewhat difficult logistics and ethical concerns surrounding primary data collection, practical fieldwork strategies are discussed, derived from the years that our team has worked with young children and their families in their homes and in jails and state prisons.
KeywordsAttachment Early childhood Incarcerated parents Infants Caregiving Prison Jail Behavior problems
- Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the Strange Situation. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Begun, A. L., Hodge, A. I., & Early, T. J. (2017). A family systems perspective in prisoner reentry. In S. Stojkovic (Ed.), Prisoner reentry (pp. 85–144). New York: Palgrave McMillan.Google Scholar
- Bogenschneider, K. (2015). Policy commentary: The research evidence policymakers need to build better public policy for children of incarcerated parents. In J. Poehlmann-Tynan (Ed.), Children’s contact with incarcerated parents: Implications for policy and prevention (pp. 93–113). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Bretherton, I., Ridgeway, D., & Cassidy, J. (1990). Assessing internal working models of the attachment relationship. An attachment story completion task for 3-year-olds. In M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research and intervention. (pp. 300–308). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). Making human beings human. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2007). The Bioecological Model of Human Development. In Handbook of Child Psychology. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons Inc.Google Scholar
- Burnson, C. (2016). Resilience in young children of jailed parents (Doctoral dissertation). The University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
- Byrne, M. W. (2010). Interventions within prison nurseries. In J. M. Eddy & J. Poehlmann (Eds.), Children of incarcerated parents: A handbook for researchers and practitioners (pp. 159–187). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Child Trends. (2016). Child maltreatment: Indicators of child and youth well-being. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/40_Child_Maltreatment.pdf.
- Clear, T. R., & Austin, J. (2009). Reducing mass incarceration: Implications of the Iron Law of prison populations confronting the costs of incarceration. Harvard Law & Policy Review, 3, 307–324.Google Scholar
- Glaze, L. E., & Maruschak, L. M. (2010). Parents in prison and their minor children. Bureau of Justice Statistics (Special Report). Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pptmc.pdf.
- Goshin, L. S. (2010). Behavior problems and competence in preschoolers who spent their first one to eighteen months in a prison nursery program (Unpublished dissertation). Columbia University.Google Scholar
- International Association of Chiefs of Police (2014). Safeguarding children of arrested parents. Retrieved from http://www.theiacp.org/model-policy/model_policy/children-of-arrested-parents/.
- Johnston, D. (1995). Parent–child visits in jails. Children’s Environments, 12(1), 25–38. Google Scholar
- Lieberman, A. F., Silverman, R., & Pawl, J. H. (2000). Infant-parent psychotherapy: Core concepts and current approaches. Handbook of Infant Mental Health, 2, 472–484.Google Scholar
- Masten, A. S. (2014). Ordinary magic: Resilience in development. New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
- Muenter, L., Poehlmann-Tynan, J., Holder, N., Burnson, C., Runion, H., & Weymouth, L. (in press). On the move: Residential instability, homelessness, and child behavior problems among families with jailed parents. Journal of Child and Family Studies.Google Scholar
- Murphey, D., & Cooper, P. M. (2015). Parents behind bars what happens to their children? Retrieved from https://childtrends-ciw49tixgw5lbab.stackpathdns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-42ParentsBehindBars.pdf.
- National Reentry Resource Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://csgjusticecenter.org/nrrc.
- Parke, R., & Clarke-Stewart, A. (2003). The effects of parental incarceration on children: Perspectives, promises, and policies. In Prisoners once removed: The impact of incarceration and reentry on children, families, and communities. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
- Perry, A. R., & Bright, M. (2012). African American fathers and incarceration: Paternal involvement and child outcomes. Social Work in Public Health, 27(1–2), 187–203.Google Scholar
- Peterson, B., Fontaine, J., Kurs, E., & Cramer, L. (2015). Children of incarcerated parents framework document: Promising practices, challenges, and recommendations for the field. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.Google Scholar
- Poehlmann-Tynan, J., Runion, H., Burnson, C., Maleck, S., Weymouth, L., Pettit, K., & Huser, M. (2015). Young children’s behavioral and emotional reactions to plexiglas and video visits with jailed parents. In Children’s contact with incarcerated parents (pp. 39–58). Springer.Google Scholar
- Poehlmann-Tynan, J., & Arditti, J. (2018). Developmental and family perspectives on parental incarceration. In C. Wildeman, A. R. Haskins & J. Poehlmann-Tynan (Eds.), When parents are incarcerated: Interdisciplinary research and interventions to support children (pp. 53–81). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Google Scholar
- Richeda, B., Smith, K., Perkins, E., Simmons, S., Cowan, P., Cowan, C., & Barr, R. (2015). Baby Elmo leads dads back to the nursery: How a relationship-based intervention for fathers enhances father and child outcomes. Zero to Three, 35(5).Google Scholar
- Root & Rebound (2016). Family & children toolkit: A primer for families supporting their loved one’s reentry. Retrieved from http://www.rootandrebound.org/family-children-toolkit.
- Runion, H. (2017). Young children who visit their jailed fathers: A pilot study of children’s representations of family through drawings (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
- Sharp, S., Jones, M., & McLeod, D. (2014). Oklahoma study of incarcerated mothers and their children. Retrieved from https://www.ok.gov/occy/documents/CIP incarcerated women study report 2014.pdf.
- Shlafer, R. J., Loper, A. B., & Schillmoeller, L. (2015). Introduction and literature review: Is parent–child contact during parental incarceration beneficial? In Children’s Contact with Incarcerated Parents (pp. 1–21). Springer.Google Scholar
- Shonkoff, J. P. (2014). Changing the narrative for early childhood investment. Pediatrics, 168(2), 105–106.Google Scholar
- Travis, J., & Waul, M. (Eds.). (2003). Prisoners once removed: The impact of incarceration and reentry on children, families, and communities. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.Google Scholar
- Turney, K., & Wildeman, C. (2017). Maternal incarceration and the transformation of urban family life. Social Forces, 1–27.Google Scholar
- Wildeman, C., Haskins, A. R., & Poehlmann-Tynan, J. (Eds.). (2018). When parents are incarcerated: Interdisciplinary research and interventions to support children. APA Bronfenbrenner series on the ecology of human development. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar