Parenting Inside Out – Children of Incarcerated Parents

The Parenting Inside Out® program is an evidence-based parenting skills training program developed for criminal justice involved parents. The prison version is appropriate for both incarcerated mothers and incarcerated fathers who are parenting from prison. The community version is appropriate for parents on parole or probation or parents with a history of substance abuse or involvement with the child welfare system.
As part of a reentry program, Parenting Inside Out has a proven impact on reducing recidivism and criminal behavior, while improving family relationships and parenting skills. Parenting Inside Out has helped thousands of parents rebuild their relationships with their children and families.
Parenting Inside Out has been reviewed by SAMSHA and appears on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). It is the highest rated evidence-based parenting program developed specifically for incarcerated and criminal justice involved parents.
The second edition of Parenting Inside Out was published in September 2017 and reflects both new research in trauma-informed interventions and gender-responsive interventions. In addition, it covers parenting topics such as bullying, cyber safety, and age-appropriate media use that have become important in the last several years.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of individuals incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States had reached almost 1.6 million by the end of 2008. One in every 99 U.S. residents is in a prison or jail (Pew Center, 2008). One in every 31 Americans is incarcerated or on parole/probation (Pew Center, 2008).
Approximately, 10 million children nationwide have a parent who has been incarcerated. 2.3 million of those children, or roughly one child out of every 30, currently has a parent in state or federal prison.
And how are the children? Research has shown that these children generally do not fare well. Many experience poverty, the effects of substance abuse and/or illegal activities and family instability prior to the parent’s incarceration. Their experience once the parent is taken away is not much better. They must cope with the stigma of family involvement in the criminal justice system, the loss of a parent, and the isolation that comes with coping with these issues in silence. Children whose parents have ever been incarcerated are twice as likely as other children to be involved in state services, such as TANF, mental health services and child protective services (Washington State Department of Social and Health Services 2008).
The problem of incarceration and divided families disproportionately affects poor families of color. Many incarcerated parents have not completed high school and have serious substance abuse issues. Many of these parents will remain in prison while their children reach adulthood. Parental incarceration negatively impacts both the parent’s income level and ability to support his/her children and the child’s long-term ability to rise up the income ladder in his/her adult life (Pew Charitable Trusts, Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility 2010).
It is time to bring these children out of the shadows and to help their families give them the support they need. One step is to give parents the skills to help their children stay connected and learn to lead healthy, pro social lives.
The Children’s Justice Alliance developed toolkits for professionals working with children impacted by a parent’s incarceration.

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