April 27, 2016

Incarcerated Parents Impact The Health Of Hoosier Children

Photo provided by FreeDigitalPhoto.com

Photo provided by FreeDigitalPhoto.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana has the second highest percentage in the nation of children who have a parent who’s been incarcerated, and this can have long lasting effects on a child’s wellness.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 11 percent of Hoosier children have a parent who has been incarcerated. 

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the impact that time behind bars has on children.

Associate Professor at IU School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children Pediatric Dr. Matthew Aalsma, said the this report is a valuable tool.

"It’s really helpful to have this report that makes connections to health outcomes, I think that’s one of the things that hasn’t been as obvious to practitioners in the field," Aalsma said. 

The report connects a range of issues that can lead to later poor health outcomes, including anxiety and depression. Aalsma says being separated from a parent can lead other problems.

Tami Silverman, president and CEO, Indiana Youth Institute said the research indicates that incarceration has a compounding impact for children. 

"We also know longer term these children are less likely to do well in school. They’re more likely to live in and stay in poverty. They’re more likely to have poorer health outcomes," Silverman said. "There are just many negative impacts when kids have incarcerated parents.”

The report also provides recommendations on how to provide support to these children including support programs like food and health initiatives, especially in communities that are disproportionately affected by incarceration.

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