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History of Family Separation: Incarceration

An academic guide on the history of family separation

Introduction and Information

The intersection of the child welfare and criminal justice systems is as complex as the relationships entangled in it. The prison system wasn't designed for families, but it nonetheless holds hundreds of thousands of parents including many who were their children's main caregivers. Likewise, the child welfare bureaucracy wasn't designed to deal with crime, but the many of children in its care are refugees from their parents' clashes with police, courts and prisons. 

For more information from this author check out: http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/about/266-parents-in-prison-children-in-foster-care

Keywords

  • Foster Care 
  • Psychology
  • Institutionalized 
  • Incarcerate
  • Family Separation 

Books

Articles and Summaries

Shaw, T., Bright, C. & Sharpe, L. (2015) Child welfare outcomes for youth in care as a result of parental death or parental incarceration

Research on the relationship between parental incarceration and foster care placement is limited in three ways: (1) it focuses solely on maternal imprisonment and provides neither (2) strong causal tests nor (3) tests of mediation. In this article, we address these gaps by providing a rationale for how paternal imprisonment may increase children's risk of foster care placement and by using Danish registry data to conduct a strong causal test of this relationship (using a recent policy change) and to test relevant mechanisms. The results provide compelling evidence of a causal effect of paternal imprisonment on children's risk of foster care placement in Denmark and imply that changes in family finances and family structure do little to explain these effects.


Tullberg, E., Kerker, B., Muradwij, N., & Saxe, G. (2017). The Atlas Project: Integrating Trauma-Informed Practice into Child Welfare and Mental Health Settings. Child Welfare95(6), 107–125. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.pratt.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=130544590&site=eds-live

Although children in foster care are disproportionately affected by trauma, few child welfare agencies fully integrate trauma knowledge into their practices or have trauma-specific interventions available for children who could benefit from them, either internally or through partnerships with mental health providers. The Atlas Project has built on foster care - mental health partnerships to integrate trauma-informed practices into New York City Treatment Family foster care programs. This paper provides detail on the elements of the Atlas Project model, their implementation, and implications for traumainformed child welfare practice.


McGuire, A., Cho, B., Huffhines, L., Gusler, S., Brown, S., & Jackson, Y. (2018). The relation between dimensions of maltreatment, placement instability, and mental health among youth in foster care. Child Abuse & Neglect86, 10–21. https://doi-org.ezproxy.pratt.edu/10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.08.012

Youth in foster care with maltreatment experiences often demonstrate higher rates of mental and behavioral health problems compared to youth in the general population as well as maltreated youth who remain at home. Previous research has demonstrated that dimensions of maltreatment (type, frequency, and severity) and placement instability are two prominent factors that account for high rates of psychopathology (e.g., depression, anxiety, and disruptive behavior disorders). The present study sought to clarify the relation between maltreatment and mental health among youth in foster care by studying both the isolated dimensions of maltreatment and cumulative maltreatment, and to determine whether the effects of maltreatment on mental health operated indirectly through placement instability.


Signe Hald Andersen, & Christopher Wildeman. (2014). The Effect of Paternal Incarceration on Children’s Risk of Foster Care Placement. Social Forces, (1), 269. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.pratt.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.43287825&site=eds-live

Research on the relationship between parental incarceration and foster care placement is limited in three ways: (1) it focuses solely on maternal imprisonment and provides neither (2) strong causal tests nor (3) tests of mediation. In this article, we address these gaps by providing a rationale for how paternal imprisonment may increase children's risk of foster care placement and by using Danish registry data to conduct a strong causal test of this relationship (using a recent policy change) and to test relevant mechanisms. The results provide compelling evidence of a causal effect of paternal imprisonment on children's risk of foster care placement in Denmark and imply that changes in family finances and family structure do little to explain these effects.

General Databases

Science Direct 

Provides full-text scientific journal articles and book chapters in social and behavioural sciences.

 

Criminal Justice Collection 

The Criminal Justice Collection informs the research process for researchers who are studying law, law enforcement, or terrorism, training for paralegal service, preparing for a career in homeland security, delving into forensic science, investigating crime scenes, developing policy, going to court, writing sociological reports, and much more. The Criminal Justice Collection makes research easy by bringing together information from more than 250 journals. Exclusive features, including Topic Finder, InterLink, and a mobile-optimized interface, support and enhance the search experience.

 

Social Theory 

Social Theory offers an extensive selection of documents that explore the complexities and interpret the nature of social behavior and organization. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before. This final release features more than 150,000 pages of content by such major theorists as Theodor Adorno, Jean Baudrillard, Simone de Beauvoir, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Émile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Robert Merton, Dorothy E. Smith , and Talcott Parsons.