Over 5 million American children under the age of 18 years, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Latino, have had a residential parent jailed or incarcerated. While a number of existing studies identify parental incarceration as a key risk factor for poor child and family outcomes, there is more limited information describing programs that aim to promote positive outcomes for children with parents involved in the criminal justice system.
This literature review analyzes published studies about family strengthening programs that seek to maintain and build healthy relationships between parents who are incarcerated and their children. The review is organized by six key areas of programmatic focus that the research team identified based on an initial scan of the literature, consultations with experts and programs in the field, and guidance from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.