Research Links

Want to better understand the impact of parental incarceration on children?

These links are provided for those who wish to gain a better understanding of these precious children in our Sparks programs.
Parents in prison: The child health crisis no one is talking about.

A study of more than 13,000 adolescents and young adults with a history of paternal incarceration published in this month's Pediatrics journal, powerfully demonstrates the effects of having an incarcerated mother or father.

Recent statistics regarding children of inmates are astounding! This article focuses on kids in Philadelphia, but they apply universally. CLICK HERE to read the article.


Nearly Six Million Kids Are Impacted by Parental Incarceration–nearly a half million of them are in Texas!

The latest information (2011-2012) published by the Annie E Casey Foundation shows that in Texas, there are nearly a half-million children affected by parental incarceration. That is 7% of our Texas children. For more information click on Nearly Six Million Kids Are Impacted by Parental Incarceration – The Annie E. Casey Foundation (November 17, 2017). READ MORE

A SHARED SENTENCE:  The devastating toll of parental incarceration on kids, families and communities READ MORE

APRIL 2016 policy report: KIDS COUNT –  THE ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION


Did You Know? . . .To read these complete articles Click Here

Children of incarcerated parents are an invisible population receiving little attention despite alarming numbers of children affected: one in 9 African American children, one in 28 Latino children, and one in 57 white children.[ii]   International human rights advocates have called parental incarceration “the greatest threat to child well-being in the U.S.”[iii]

Parental incarceration is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an adverse childhood experience (ACE). Parental incarceration increases the risk of children experiencing long term negative health and mental health outcomes, academic problems, poverty, household instability, homelessness, and infant mortality.[i]

Separation due to a parent’s incarceration can be as painful as other forms of parental loss and can be even more complicated because of the stigma that accompanies it, and the lack of social support and compassion associated with it.[i]

Visiting is often viewed from the perspective of whether children should go to a prison or jail, rather than from a child’s eye view and an attachment lens.  … Maintaining a connection with an incarcerated parent, including visits, can decrease a child’s emotional distress and negative behaviors.[ii] Visiting provides the forum for children to process the trauma surrounding the separation from their parents in ways that can reduce children’s feelings of guilt, responsibility, and concern for their parent’s safety[iii][iv]  Visiting is also a critical support for those who are incarcerated and is associated with reduced recidivism rates.

 Children with incarcerated parents can benefit enormously from connecting with other children experiencing the same kind of ambiguous and highly stigmatized loss. … Peer support can help reduce feelings of isolation and shame, and help youth process the trauma of separation, overcome stigma, and develop or strengthen their positive identities.[i]


Youth Incarceration in Texas

Cost to incarcerate youth in Texas


Justice Policy Institute

Policy Brief 2020 Sticker Shock: The Cost of Youth Incarceration

In 2014, when the Justice Policy Institute first analyzed the cost of secure youth confinement, 33 states and the District of Columbia reported an annual cost per youth that eclipsed $100,000. In 2020, despite more than a half-decade of falling youth arrests and declining rates of youth incarceration since 2014, 40 states and Washington, D.C. report spending at least $100,000 annually perconfined child, with some states spending more than $500,000 per youth per year. Click here to Read More

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