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Support for children with incarcerated parents

Updated on January 13, 2018

Support for children with incarcerated parents. How to help a child when their parent is in Jail

Do you have a loved one in Jail? Support for children with incarcerated parents can be found here with books on how to help, support and care for them.

What is most commonly thought of when a loved one goes to prison?

Most of the time the focus is towards the person in prison, whilst for others, coping with and the strain of having that person in jail can be immense.

Why should we support children and incarcerated parents?

Children especially need help during this time when their Dad is in jail or any close family member. They will find it hard to understand why this person they love so much has been taken away from them. Their daily routines will change and relationships with other people and friends may be affected.

This is a time that not just the parents, but the children, need all the love and support they can get. They have been put in a vulnerable state due to no fault of their own. The physiological impact can be immense and help during this stressful time is absolutely necessary to continue with a happy childhood.

Photo by Renesmee Carlie Cullen.

dad in jail
dad in jail

Children of incarcerated parents statistics

How many children in America have a parent in Prison?

The number of children with incarcerated parents is growing.

Over 2.3 million children in America alone are now growing up with either a mother or father parent in prison.

What are some of the consequences of having a parent in jail without well-structured help?

With a parent in jail, they are innocent victims who often themselves end up in the same circumstances as their parents. Sometimes suffering from social behaviour issues, and often turning to a life of drugs and crime.

Parental incarceration has a direct effect on young adults. During this time it is vital that they get the help, support and advise and understanding they need for a healthily balanced and mental lifestyle.

Photo published under Creative Commons Licence.

Children of incarcerated parents book, My Daddy is in Jail - A resource on how to help a child of incarcerated parents

"My Daddy is in Jail" is a resource for helping children cope with the incarceration of a loved one. This book includes a read-aloud story, discussion guide, caregiver advice and optional group therapy activities. With the aid of this book, along with professionals, and other caring adults, parents will find themselves better equipped to provide information and support to their children and their families.

My Daddy Is in Jail: Story, Discussion Guide, and Small Group Activities for Grades K-5
My Daddy Is in Jail: Story, Discussion Guide, and Small Group Activities for Grades K-5

My Daddy is in Jail could help any younger child you may know that has a loved one in prison.


My Daddy is in Jail

What people are saying about this book.

Amazing Curriculum for Counselors April 27, 2010

After running two elementary support groups for students in this situation, Sarah Jane gives her 5 star review. Read full review here

Other Customer reviews on Amazon Read full reviews here

Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents (7 to 12 yrs) - Support for child and how to help a child and incarcerated parents

This book is for social workers, psychologists, counsellors and teachers who work with children ages 7-12 who have a parent who is in jail. The book is designed to help create support groups.

Each chapter includes a brief review plus help and advises for additional support. Covers areas for discussion, fictional letters between a boy and his incarcerated father, activities, and worksheets.

Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents
Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

This will immensely help a young child with an incarcerated parent. Designed for adults work through the child's trauma.


Loving Through Bars: Children with Parents in Prison

This book introduces some of the 2.3 million who have themselves become victims of their parents' criminal activity. With sociological analysis, personal accounts are featured here, It is written by an experienced educator, and deals with of the instability and uncertainties that children of prisoners suffer with and their attempts to cope with and find a starting place for social integration.

Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Handbook of Researchers and Practitioners

A book explaining that kids with parents in prison are more likely to experience learning difficulties, poor health, and substance abuse, and eventually have an increased chance of becoming incarcerated themselves.

Addressing the issues and needs of youth with imprisoned parents from child welfare, health care, and education perspectives.

Children of Incarcerated Parents: Theoretical Developmental and Clinical Issues

This book is filled with research findings and tackles clinical issues.

It is a comprehensive source for understanding and intervening with children of incarcerated parents and draws from their experiences.

Support for child book, The Night Dad Went to Jail - What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail (Life's Challenges)

A book aimed at young children and incarcerated parents helping them through difficult times.

Parent Helplines for further advice:

Feel free to comment

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    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @shellys-space: I'm sorry to hear it was difficult for you. I saw on the news today from England that a staggering 1% of Americas population is now in Jail. That is an awful lot of people. Many of them must be parents.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      My son is still in the Public School system and it is surprising how many kids have parents in jail or prison. I was a child with a parent in prison and it was really difficult to deal with growing up.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      It is sad to think that so many children currently have parents in prison. The stigma of having a parent in jail can be very difficult for children to deal with.

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      @Gypzeerose: Thank you so much Bloomingrose. It is a subject that is close to my heart, I also wish that it wasn't so necessary but it's nice to know that there is help and advise available in these situations.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Back to pin this to my board "Doing Good" and sprinkle some angel dust on this wonderful and important lens. I wish this lens was not so necessary, but it is great when there are resources to help kids during rough times. Also FB liked.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is a great topic for a lens. I didn't know that there were so many books about and for children with parents in jail. I'm glad these resources are available. I am an advocate for ending America's war on drugs. This war has left many victims in our society, not the least of whom are the children of parents who have been incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses.

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 5 years ago from England

      @nanafisher: Thank you nanafisher. I wrote this page due to personal experiences and the effect it had on everybody. I think it is a worthy cause to acknowledge and support.

    • nanafisher profile image

      nanafisher 5 years ago

      This lens strikes home for many people. Myself included. I feel there are many people out there that have experienced difficulties from a family member being incarcerated. It is devastating to everyone involved. I really like this lens. Our emotions are out there when it involves children. Sadly, a lot suffer in silence.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

      Children - always the casualties :(

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      This lens is really helpful to kids.

    • summermote profile image

      summermote 5 years ago from Scottsdale, AZ

      thank you so much for this lens. It hits closer to home then i would like to admit. I will be sharing this.

    • Sara Dowling profile image

      Sara Dowling 5 years ago

      What a great lens, you dont really think about the impact that it has on the children.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i am always ready to help for those children who have suffered from it, may god bless them thanks for informative lens, keep lensing

    • ComfortsOfHome profile image

      ComfortsOfHome 5 years ago

      Indeed, there's a forgotten group. We tend to forget the impact on the children, don't we?

    • profile image

      yogendrachavda 5 years ago

      Thanks for this creative lens..

    • profile image

      yogendrachavda 5 years ago

      Thanks for this creative lens..

    • profile image

      resurrection7 5 years ago

      It's good to be reminded of those who are left to pick up the pieces of a broken life

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 5 years ago from England

      @samcuj71: Thanks for visiting. I'm sorry that you had to go through that and pleased that you think that these are good resources. Hopefully they will help some other kids and families.

    • samcuj71 profile image

      samcuj71 5 years ago

      Hi, Interesting stuff. I Have experienced the emotions of my Dad's incarceration many years ago, and have gone on to work with people in likewise circumstance. Some great resources here.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens. There needs to be more of this, talking and helping. I feel for those children, as you said through no fault of their own. Blessed.

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 5 years ago from England

      @NightMagic: Thank you NightMagic

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      All I can say is, awesome lens, good info & a must read for anyone & especially children who have a parent in jail. Well done.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 5 years ago

      this is nice healing for those children