March Journal – Effects and Experiences of Parental Incarceration

Mar 18, 2020

Take a look inside the March 2020 issue of the ZERO TO THREE Journal - Trauma and Resilience in Young Children: Effects and Experiences of Parental Incarceration.

Released bi-monthly, each issue of the ZERO TO THREE Journal focuses on a critical topic within the early childhood development field. Journal articles are carefully composed to present current knowledge, latest research, and practical advice to help early childhood professionals do their best work in support of infants and toddlers.

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Editor's Note | This Issue and Why it Matters

Parental absence due to incarceration is a unique family stressor. Many children have an absent parent because of events such as divorce or deployment, but an absence that is due to incarceration can be highly stigmatizing and may lead families to hide this fact. Teachers and other professionals are in a position to provide critical supports and services that build on family strengths and foster resilience in children affected by the trauma of parental incarceration. This issue of the Journal draws attention to the millions of children in the United States who have experienced parental incarceration and its consequences, and invites readers to consider how they can help.

Parental incarceration changes children’s lives. Young children may experience broad consequences, including limited interaction with the incarcerated parent, reduced family income and standard of living, and uncertainty about the future. Although children’s responses to the strain of parental incarceration vary, overall their development, behavior, and physical health are at risk.

All families are different, so studying family life and experiences is complex. We need many viewpoints to begin to comprehend the needs and challenges of families experiencing parental incarceration. To explore incarceration in the US and its effects on young children, we invited contributions from both direct service professionals and researchers. The authors are from disciplines that include early care and education, medicine, sociology, psychology, law, and mental health. With stories and data, these contributions convey the urgency of these children’s situations, provide concrete strategies for helpful responses, and hold out hope for change at a system level. Collectively, the articles in this issue describe the scope of the problem and what it means to the lives of affected young children. The authors provide resources and strategies to assist those in the field to support children in their care who have experienced parental incarceration.

We wish to acknowledge the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and thank the faculty of its Interdisciplinary Research Leader (IRL) Fellowship which provided us the mentorship, training, and support to do this work. In 2016, our Indiana team of Karen Ruprecht, Shoshanna Spector, and Angela Tomlin was selected as one of the 15 teams in the first IRL cohort. The 3-year program partners community leaders and researchers to learn to combine their skills to address problems that affect the social determinants of health. To learn more about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its fellowship programs, please visit:

Angela Tomlin, Guest Editor
Director, Riley Child Development Center

Karen Ruprecht, Guest Editor
Managing Director, ICF Child Care State Capacity Building Center

FREE Featured Article

Take a deeper look inside this issue and read our featured article, Promoting Resilience With Children Impacted by Parental Incarceration by Angela Tomlin, Karen Ruprecht, and Joyce A. Arditti.

Click here to read this article.

Table of Contents

Promoting Resilience With Children Impacted by Parental Incarceration
Angela Tomlin, Karen Ruprecht, and Joyce A. Arditti

“No One Has Ever Asked Me if I’m a Dad.”: Supporting Families in the Context of Incarcertaion Through Community-University-Corrections Partnerships
Rebecca Shlafer, Lauren A. Hindt, and Jennifer B. Saunders

Parent–Child Separation Due to Incarceration: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Considerations
Elesia N. Hines, Shannon L. Thompson, Michelle B. Moore, Amy B. Dickson, and Kristin L. Callahan

Reuniting Young Children With Their Incarcerated Parents
Julie Poehlmann-Tynan

Understanding Secondary Trauma and Stress in the Early Childhood Workforce
Karen Ruprecht, Angela Tomlin, Kelley J. Perkins, and Stephan Viehweg

Exploring Early Care and Education Policy for Young Children of Incarcerated Parents
Harriet Dichter, Karen Ruprecht, and Angela Tomlin

Family Systems, Communities of Care, and Mental Health
Gail L. Ensher and Melissa M. Luke

In Memoriam: J. Ronald Lally

Related Resources

Member Exclusive Resources

Annual Conference Rebroadcast—Attachment, Trauma, and Reality: Creating Trauma-Informed Systems for Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families

ZERO TO THREE Journal, Vol 39 No 1—The Trauma of Family Separation and Parental Loss in Early Childhood

ZERO TO THREE Journal, Vol 36 No 5—Chronic Stress and Complex Trauma

Resources from the Bookstore

I’m Here for You Now

You Weren’t With Me

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