Written Policies for Responding to Children after a Parent or Caretaker Is Arrested

More than 2 million children have an incarcerated parent. In 2000 an estimated 7.3 million children had a parent under some form of correctional supervision (prison, jail, probation, or parole). Does law enforcement become responsible for these children’s safety and subsequent well-being at the point of parental or caregiver arrest?

Children of incarcerated parents were considered the hidden victims of crime. But in the past two decades they have gradually emerged from the shadows and now receive much more attention from the criminal justice system and child welfare services. In general, law enforcement officers are sensitive to the children’s plight as well as the potential liability officers inherit after an arrest of the parents for the children welfare. Correctional administrators understand that they can play an important role in family maintenance and reunification. And the judiciary has become aware of the impact that incarceration has on the family.