Children of Incarcerated Parents: Cumulative Risk and Children's Living Arrangements.

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Johnson, Elizabeth Inez.
Waldfogel, Jane.
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Data was used from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities to investigate risk factors that are present in the lives of incarcerated parents and their children, and how these differentially relate to children's living arrangements. The final sample for the study included 6,870 fathers and 2,047 mothers who were incarcerated in State or Federal prison in 1997. Results indicate children are increasingly likely to be placed with someone other than a parent, and are particularly likely to be placed in foster or agency care, as the number of risk factors rises. The highest risk children of incarcerated mothers and fathers are placed into foster or agency care, but those placed with grandparents or other relatives, or in other arrangements, also enter placement with more risks that those placed with parents. For both mothers and fathers, four risk factors were significantly associated with placement of the child in foster care or an agency. A history of child physical or sexual abuse, less than a 12th grade education, and benefit receipt increased the odds that both mothers' and fathers' children would be placed in foster care. For mothers, benefit receipt also increased the odds that children were in the care of relatives as compared to the child's other parent. Regular substance use increased the odds that mothers' children would be placed with a grandparent or other relative, and fathers' children would be placed in foster care during the parent's incarceration. Children are much more likely to be placed with a non-parent if their mother is incarcerated, than if their father is incarcerated. Finally, African-American children were more likely to be placed with grandparents, relatives, or foster care rather than with another parent when their mother was incarcerated. 6 tables and 92 references.

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