Children's Contact With Their Incarcerated Parents Research Findings and Recommendations

Julie Poehlmann
Danielle Dallaire, William & Mary
Ann Booker Loper
Leslie D. Shear


Approximately 1.7 million children have parents who are incarcerated in prison in the United States, and possibly millions of additional children have a parent incarcerated in jail. Many affected children experience increased risk for developing behavior problems, academic failure, and substance abuse. For a growing number of children, incarcerated parents, caregivers, and professionals, parent child contact during the imprisonment period is a key issue. In this article, we present a conceptual model to provide a framework within which to interpret findings about parent child contact when parents are incarcerated. We then summarize recent research examining parent child contact in context. On the basis of the research reviewed, we present initial recommendations for children's contact with incarcerated parents and also suggest areas for future intervention and research with this vulnerable population.