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Kids with an incarcerated parent can thrive with proper care

When you are facing a felony charge, you are facing the possibility that you will have to serve time in prison. Parents who are facing that possibility are likely facing what they might consider their worst nightmare. Studies have shown that children who have a parent in prison have a higher risk of dropping out of school, becoming homeless, living in poverty or having mental health issues.

There are many ways that parents, as well as the correctional system, can help to ensure that children who have an incarcerated parent can still thrive. These points should begin as soon as the parent is incarcerated and would ideally continue when the parent is released from custody.

One thing that is crucial is that the child is allowed to have a meaningful relationship with the incarcerated parent. This is especially true when the child is younger since that is the time when children can form meaningful bonds. Child-friendly visitations, easy accessibility to transportation and parenting programs can all help with this aspect of helping kids to thrive.

Since income, employment and housing are concerns, the inmates should be able to meet the basic needs of their children when the inmate is released. This means being able to access programs that can help them to meet those needs. Policy changes might be necessary for this to happen. Along the same lines is the need of former inmates to find housing and employment. Both of those can be difficult without changes to employment application processes and housing policies.

Parents who are facing criminal charges should work to avoid being incarcerated; however, an incarceration doesn't necessarily mean that the children have to be relegated to a life of negatives.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How States Can Help 5 Million Kids With A Parent Behind Bars," Sarah Grossman, April 25, 2016

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