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  1. Youth Topics
  2. Children of Incarcerated Parents
  3. Child Welfare Services To Children and Families of Prisoners

Child Welfare Services to Children and Families of Prisoners

The disruption of family relationships when parents are incarcerated can have a serious impact on children and youth, with consequences sometimes including temporary or permanent removal from the home. Although the number of children and youth placed in foster care as a result of their parent’s incarceration is not clearly identified through current data collection systems, estimates suggest that tens of thousands of young people in foster care may have incarcerated parents.1 Further, as a result of incarceration, some parents face termination of parental rights because their children have been in the foster care system beyond the time allowed by law.2


Child Welfare Services to Children & Families of Prisoners 
This site from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a part of the Administration for Children & Families, provides resources and state and local examples for children in the child welfare system with family members who are incarcerated.

Children in Out-of-Home Care With Incarcerated Parents 
This site from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a part of the Administration for Children & Families, provides resources and information about working with children in or at risk of entering out-of-home care whose parents are incarcerated.

A Toolkit for Working With Children of Incarcerated Parents
This web-based training toolkit from the Children’s Bureau provides practitioners with the skills required to respond to the needs of children whose parents are in prison or have a history of incarceration.

  • Helpful Hints for Practitioners
  • The Children and Families of Incarcerated Parents Initiative in Washington State: Central Points
  • Free Online Training Video for Social Service Practitioners: Summary
  • Handouts for Practitioners, Families, and Caregivers
  • Reading Lists and Videos for Children, Caregivers, and Providers
  • Research and Information for Providers
  • Children of Incarcerated Parents: Bill of Rights
  • Beyond the Walls: A Guide to Services for Families Affected by Incarceration
  • Visitation Procedures and Inmate Locators for Prisons and Jails

ASFA and Reuniting Children With Incarcerated Mothers (PDF, 12 pages)
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) recently published an information packet providing statistical information about incarcerated mothers and their children. The information packet also addresses some of the barriers to reunification faced by incarcerated mothers owing to certain provisions in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).

When a Parent Is Incarcerated
Developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and featured on the Children's Bureau's website, this guide provides information to public child welfare agencies and caseworkers on working with incarcerated parents and their children. Goals of the primer include familiarizing child welfare professionals with the impact of incarceration and providing information to child welfare and correctional systems to help improve permanency outcomes for children.

National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections at the Hunter College School of Social Work is a training, technical assistance, and information services organization dedicated to help strengthen the capacity of State, local, Tribal and other publicly administered or supported child welfare agencies in order to: institutionalize a safety-focused, family-centered, and community-based approach to meet the needs of children, youth and families. NRCPFC is a service of the Children's Bureau at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The NRCPFC is committed to providing T/TA & Information Services that are:

  • Proactive
  • Integrated
  • Culturally Competent
  • Collaborative
  • Individualized
  • Strength-based
  • Family-centered practice
  • Community-based practice
  • Evidence-Based & Evidence-informed

1 GAO, 2011
2 GAO, 2011


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How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).