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15,000 NH Kids Face Trauma with Parents in Prison

About 15,000 New Hampshire children grow up separated from a parent in prison, and a new report makes recommendations for communities, courts and states to help them cope. (mensatic/morguefile)
About 15,000 New Hampshire children grow up separated from a parent in prison, and a new report makes recommendations for communities, courts and states to help them cope. (mensatic/morguefile)
April 25, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. – A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls attention to the plight of children with parents in prison, and those children make up about one in 20 in the Granite State.

Amy Bourgault, interim director of New Hampshire Kids Count, says the trauma experienced by children during their parents' years behind bars can be similar to that experienced by children who have been abused.

"Unfortunately, the ‘tough on crime' became a tragedy for kids,” she points out. “More than 15,000 in New Hampshire are affected. And when we let kids whose parents are in prison struggle and suffer, we add to the generational pull on poverty."

Bourgault says she would like to see New Hampshire and other states take advantage of the new federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which helps fund education programs in prison and presents people with a better pathway to employment when they're released.

It is also a recommendation in the Casey Foundation report.

Scot Spencer, the Casey Foundation’s associate director for advocacy and influence, says courts should prioritize the children's needs, by using alternatives to incarceration when possible, and placing incarcerated parents in the facility closest to their family.

"Location can matter in how a child can actually have access to their parent while that parent is incarcerated – providing other ways for kids to connect with their families using technology, such as video conferencing," she states.

Spencer adds the report also encourages states to provide counseling and financial assistance for families while a parent is incarcerated, and for courts and community groups to steer those families to the help they need.




Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH