Summary of Findings. Parental incarceration is increasingly prevalent in United States cities, particularly among fathers.Fathers with incarceration histories earn less than other fathers and are less likely to be stably employed upon their release.Children whose fathers have been incarcerated liv
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1. Parental Incarceration and Child Wellbeing in Fragile Families Amanda Geller
Columbia University School of Social Work
2. Summary of Findings Parental incarceration is increasingly prevalent in United States cities, particularly among fathers.
Fathers with incarceration histories earn less than other fathers and are less likely to be stably employed upon their release.
Children whose fathers have been incarcerated live in households experiencing significantly more material hardship and more marital and residential instability.
Differences in health and development are small, but suggest further disadvantage as children grow older.
3. Presentation Agenda Motivation
Data: The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
Labor Market Outcomes
Incarceration and Other Father Absence
Summary and Implications
4. Motivation By the end of 2004, the United States had almost 1.5 million people incarcerated, more than half of whom are parents.
As of 2002, more than 2 million children had a parent in jail or prison.
Despite the prevalence of parental incarceration, we know little about its short or long term effects on children.
5. Motivation: Theoretical Model
6. Data: The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study Panel survey of 3800 new unwed parents (1998-2000), plus 1100 married parents
Representative of births in large cities
Large sample of unmarried fathers has high prevalence of incarceration history
Follow-up interviews at 1, 3, 5, 9 years
This report presents findings through children’s third birthday
7. Fathers’ Incarceration: Descriptive Statistics
8. Father’s Incarceration: Labor Market Outcomes Fathers who have been incarcerated are less stably employed, and earn less, than their never-incarcerated counterparts.
9. Fathers’ Incarceration: Family Instability Material hardship: Did someone in family
Receive free food — Get evicted
Lose phone service — Not pay full utility bills
Lose utility services — Not pay full rent/mortgage
Not see a doctor when one was needed
Public Assistance receipt
10. Fathers’ Incarceration: Family Instability Families in which the father has been incarcerated experience significantly more instability.
11. Fathers’ Incarceration: Child Wellbeing Child Health: mother’s (5-point) rating, overweight or obese status
Cognitive Development: PPVT (measures size and range of words children understand)
Aggression: eg. tantrums, destroying things, hitting
Anxious/Depressive behavior: eg. nervousness, fear, sadness
Withdrawal: eg. Avoiding eye contact, nonresponse to affection
12. Fathers’ Incarceration: Child Wellbeing No significant differences in physical health or cognitive development, but children with incarcerated fathers score significantly worse on two of three mental health measures:
13. Fathers’ Incarceration and Other Father Absence To what extent are hardship and mental health differences uniquely related to incarceration?
Comparing different types of father absence:
Fathers incarcerated for portion of child’s life
Fathers who were never incarcerated, but:
Never lived with their partner (but had seen child)
Never saw (or don’t know about) child
14. Fathers’ Incarceration and Other Father Absence
15. Fathers’ Incarceration and Other Father Absence
16. Fathers’ Incarceration: Summary Fathers with incarceration histories perform significantly worse in the labor market.
Families where a father has been incarcerated experience more instability and material hardship.
Children in these families display slight developmental disadvantages.
Child wellbeing is likely to worsen as children age
Developmental indicators more refined for older children
Cumulative effects of disadvantage
17. Maternal Incarceration Mothers’ incarceration differs from fathers’:
Far less prevalent (7% of sample vs. 41%)
Shorter sentences (Avg. 4.9 months vs. 12.3)
Concentrated before child’s birth (70% of ever-incarcerated mothers vs. 86% of fathers)
Mothers with incarceration histories face significant disadvantage:
Less likely to be married/cohabiting
Less stably employed
18. Maternal Incarceration, Family Instability, and Child Wellbeing Children whose mothers have been incarcerated:
Are less likely to live with both biological parents
Live in households with more material hardship and receiving more public assistance
Move more frequently
Do not differ significantly on health or developmental measures
19. Summary of Findings Parents with incarceration histories perform significantly worse in the labor market.
Families where a parent has been incarcerated face more material hardship and other instability.
However, by age 3, developmental effects are small.
Slight differences in mental health outcomes
No differences in health or cognitive outcomes.
20. Implications for Policy and Practice Effects of incarceration on child wellbeing are small at age 3, but may grow.
Health, cognitive, and mental health outcomes are better measured as children age
Cumulative effects of disadvantage and instability
Material hardship and instability suggest the need for assistance at the point of incarceration
Re-evaluating family income to ensure PA resources meet new level of need
Continuity of social services in the case of a move