Parents who are incarcerated face a unique set of challenges because they must work within and across both the child welfare and corrections systems. They may experience difficulties in meeting case plan requirements such as regular visiting with their children or completing parent education within the timeframe established by child welfare and by Federal regulations such as the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The following resources provide strategies and best practices for promoting reunification and supporting visits between incarcerated parents and their children.
Child Welfare: More Information and Collaboration Could Promote Ties Between Foster Care Children and Their Incarcerated Parents (PDF - 3,113 KB)
U.S. Government Accountability Office (2011)
Examines the number of children in foster care with incarcerated parents, strategies that support contact or reunification, and how Federal agencies support affected children and families.
Connecting Children With Incarcerated Parents (PDF - 268 KB)
University of New Mexico, Corinne Wolfe Children's Law Center; Advocacy, Inc.; New Mexico CASA Network; New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department; New Mexico Citizens Review Board; & New Mexico Children's Court Improvement Commission (2011)
Outlines current practice within the Children, Youth, and Families Department in New Mexico, including strategies for meeting the needs of the children and their families, advantages of connecting children with their incarcerated parents, and more.
Information Packet: The Adoptions and Safe Families Act: Barrier to Reunification Between Children and Incarcerated Mothers (PDF - 642 KB)
Wallace & Ariyakulkan (2012)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
Highlights obstacles to the reunification of incarcerated mothers and their children and discusses statistics, relevant policies, best practices, and related reports and resources.
Federal Interagency Reentry Council
Provides information about federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated persons and their families on topics such as, public housing, employment, parental rights, and voting rights.
The National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated
Offers information and resources for service providers and families that focus on supporting children and families of incarcerated persons.
Parenting From Prison
McCarthy & Blustain (2008)
Rise Magazine, 10
Includes articles about reunification that were written by parents who had been previously incarcerated and who had children in foster care.
What About Me? When a Parent Goes to Prison: A Guide to Discussing Your Incarceration With Your Children (PDF - 431 KB)
New Jersey Department of Corrections, Divisions of Programs and Community Services, Office of Transitional Services (2007)
Offers helpful ideas for encouraging open and honest communication about incarceration between children and adults. The guide was designed to help children, families, and caregivers, who have a mother, father, or close family member who is incarcerated.
When a Parent is Incarcerated: A Primer for Social Workers
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2011)
Offers a practice guide that outlines special considerations for working with incarcerated parents. The guide also offers steps for mitigating trauma and provides protocols for understanding legal issues and maintaining communication.
Video Visits for Children Whose Parents are Incarcerated: In Whose Best Interest? (PDF - 967 KB)
The Sentencing Project (2012)
Explores the pros and cons of using video conferencing technology as a visitation option for children and their incarcerated parents.