While an exact number is not known, it is believed at least 20,000 children in Oregon have a parent in prison. These children suffer in many ways and sadly often without sufficient support.
Impact on Children of Incarcerated Parents
· Children may experience delayed development, behavior,
and attention disorders.
· Children may struggle with developing secure attachments with others and have poor coping skills as adults.
· Many of the responses to parental absence due to incarceration
can be predictors of later criminal behavior.
· Poor parenting skills and parental offending are two of the strongest predictors of children’s criminal conduct.
Because of the trauma experienced by children in this situation, many community organizations have joined together to form the Clackamas County Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIP) Committee. The Clackamas County CIP Committee meets monthly to coordinate efforts to support children affected by incarceration in our community. One such effort is to provide support for their parents, so there can be a successful reunification and a positive home environment for the children. In addition, research has found that 91% of parents who graduate from Parenting Inside Out (PIO), a program sponsored by the CIP committee, report no further involvement with the criminal justice system.
· Mentoring for the children of incarcerated parents (ages 10 to 15)
· Intensive parent PIO education to prepare parents for reunification
· Toolkit for families affected by incarceration who have young children
· Handbook on resources for families affected by incarceration
· Community education about the issues, challenges, and opportunities children of incarcerated parents face
“A couple, overcoming many challenges, was enrolled in our Oregon City PIO class. Their ability to raise a child had been questioned, so Department of Human Services (DHS) stepped in at the birth of their child and took her into state custody. They were successfully completing all the tasks DHS put to them, and PIO was the last hurdle so they could reunite with their daughter. Ten weeks into class, due to their positive midterm report depicting the strong effort and dedication they had applied to the class, they gained custody of their child, which would become permanent on successful completion of the class. The day they finally had their daughter returned they brought her by Northwest Family Services to show their instructor, thanking her for providing the opportunity to have their daughter back. The impact that the class, supportive classmates, and the time focusing on their family has had on their lives has been immeasurable. They often cry with gratitude, sharing the impact Parenting Inside Out has had on their family. They successfully completed PIO, both with ‘A’s,’ and they cried with pride, saying they have never before received a certificate.”
What Can You Do To Help
· Volunteer (e.g., mentor a youth of an incarcerated parent, assist with a parenting class)
· Spread the word
· Get informed
For more information, please contact Kgorton@co.clackamas.or.us or call 503-650-5680.