Children of incarcerated parents are at risk for cognitive delays, internalizing (e.g., depression) and externalizing problems (e.g., delinquency). Visits during the parent’s incarceration have the potential to reduce these risks. One research project at the University of Wisconsin observed and assessed these interactions between children and their jailed parents; however it focuses exclusively on younger children (2-6 years). Through funding from the UMN Office of the Vice President for Research, I will adapt the observational protocol for older children and adolescents (7-17 years), examine the visit quality as a potential protective factor, and study associations between children’s developmental outcomes and characteristics of their jailed parents.
In a second study, jointly funded by the University of Minnesota Clinical & Translational Science Institute and University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical & Translational Research, an intervention utilizing the Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration materials designed for children of incarcerated parents will be implemented during jail visits. The proposed intervention will be evaluated for efficacy and impact on children’s short-term outcomes.