Parental Incarceration


While it is difficult to predict how a child will fare when a parent is involved in the criminal justice system, parental incarceration can affect many aspects of a child’s life such as their mental health, academic performance and financial circumstances. The challenges and difficulties that children of incarcerated parents face include:

  • Psychological strain that affects emotional well-being
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Suspension or expulsion from school
  • Economic harship that can lead to criminal activity

Children of incarcerated parents face many challenges staying connected with their parents, especially if the children are placed in foster care. It can be difficult to access services, set up visits, and reunite after parent’s release from prison. Parents with sentences longer than 15 months are at risk of permanently losing their rights to their children.



Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Bill of Rights.

In 2003 the San Francisco Partnership for Incarcerated Parents published the Bill of Rights for children of incarcerated parents based on work originally done by Gretchen Newby of Friends Outside, a California organization that addresses the special needs of families affected by incarceration. This bill has been adopted as best practice by many organizations nationwide, that work with children of incarcerated parents.


Downloadable Publications

Safer Society Foundation presents a series of illustrated storybooks for counseling children of incarcerated parents (ChIPs).

Each of these short stories is told from the point of view of one child who has a particular family situation and challenge to overcome. At the end of the 12-page story, are two coloring pages for the child reader to write and illustrate his or her own story. In the back of the book, a note to the caregiver suggests ways to engage children in reading and talking about the story and helping them draw parallels to their own situations and challenges.


Every Single Kid

Every Single Kid strives to surround children who have incarcerated parents with the stability, encouragement, and hope they need while facing their parent’s incarceration and after their release. Every Single Kid believes children deserve support in order to break cycles of incarceration and create bright futures for themselves.