Infants and Young Children with Incarcerated Parents

  • Cynthia BurnsonEmail author
  • Lindsay Weymouth


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.


Attachment Early childhood Incarcerated parents Infants Caregiving Prison Jail Behavior problems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Council on Crime & DelinquencyMadisonUSA
  2. 2.School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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