This is an archive of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP's) electronic newsletter OJJDP News @ a Glance. The information in this archived resource may be outdated and links may no longer function. Visit our website at for current information.
September | October 2014

White House Conference Highlights Needs of Families Affected by Incarceration

An estimated 1.7 million youth younger than 18 years old currently have at least one parent in prison in the United States, and millions more have a parent in jail. The problems children of incarcerated parents can experience include financial instability, emotional distress, changes in family structure, problems at school, and social stigma. At the same time, 20 percent of youth in custody have or are expecting children. These young parents often require services to assist them in transitioning back to their communities and promoting the health and well-being of their families.

The White House, the U.S. Department of Justice, OJJDP, and other federal agencies are working vigorously across many fronts to help families affected by a parent’s incarceration access the support they need.

On October 8, 2014, the White House Domestic Policy Office and Office of Pubic Engagement in collaboration with OJJDP, the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored an event that highlighted recent developments in the federal government’s work to address the needs of families affected by incarceration as well as a panel discussion on promoting effective policy to address the issue. Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, offered remarks. The audience also heard from Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler-Fleiss, who spoke on her personal experience as the child of an incarcerated parent.

The event also featured a preview of "Visiting: Through the Youth Lens," a film from Echoes of Incarceration, a documentary initiative produced by youth with incarcerated parents. The project explores the issue of mass incarceration and its effects on families, and creates documentary films told from the life experiences of the filmmakers themselves.

Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Karol V. Mason announced the following new OJP initiatives to address the needs of families impacted by incarceration:

  • OJJDP’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Demonstration Program will fund a partnership between a mentoring service provider and an evaluator/researcher in multiple sites, with the goal of developing new, research-informed practices to better serve children whose parents are incarcerated. Areas of focus will include mentor and youth recruitment, screening and intake assessment, mentor–mentee matching, training, structure and supports for mentoring activities, program monitoring, family engagement, and partnerships with external organizations and resources.
  • The Office’s FY 2014 Second Chance Act Strengthening Relationships Between Young Fathers and Their Children: A Reentry Mentoring Project will fund mentoring and comprehensive transitional services, emphasizing developing parenting skills, to offenders who are young fathers. This program will include one-to-one, group, and peer mentoring; the provision of case management services focused on offender needs that affect recidivism; and comprehensive supports to promote life skills and responsible fatherhood.
  • OJP's Bureau of Justice Assistance in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police has developed a model arrest protocol, Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents to help minimize potential trauma and support a child’s physical safety and well-being following an arrest.

In addition, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Charles Samuels, announced the creation of a new Reentry Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Pamela Hyde, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at HHS, announced new resources to help incarcerated parents with reentry and navigating the child welfare system.

The event was planned as a followup to the June 2013 White House Champions of Change event that honored individuals who have dedicated themselves to supporting children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers.


On October 8, 2014, Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity; and Karol V. Mason, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, posted a blog about the White House event. The blog may be accessed online.

Numerous government agencies provide services that support children who find themselves impacted by the incarceration of a parent. Information about these resources is available at OJJDP's report Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents is also available online.