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Californian’s now facing a pair of wildfires; Also on the Tuesday rundown: Higher education in New Jersey: a racial split; plus food resources still available despite the “public charge” proposal.

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A Sentence of Their Own: Impact of Parent Incarceration on NC Children

Improving access to community support for children and families of incarcerated parents can help lesson the lifelong impact of jail time on generations, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (disastrous/flickr.com)
Improving access to community support for children and families of incarcerated parents can help lesson the lifelong impact of jail time on generations, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (disastrous/flickr.com)
April 25, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - More than 179,000 children in North Carolina have been separated from a parent because of incarceration. While those parents are serving time, a new report released today from the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommends policies to help alleviate the impact on the children involved.

Laila Bell, director of research and data for NC Child, says it's important to remember those children didn't commit a crime.

"As their parents are locked away, it's unfair that the children are facing this increased burden in their lives," says Bell. "And many of them are living in communities that just don't have the resources at the moment to provide support to those families that are dealing with parental incarceration."

Among the recommendations in the report include considering children and families in the sentencing decision, providing communities with resources to support impacted families, and providing financial support to children and families during confinement.

Losing regular involvement with a parent during their formative years can have a lifelong impact on a child, explains Scot Spencer, associate director for advocacy and influence for the Casey Foundation.

"They're losing their parent in those critical years of child development, and so there are some long-standing impacts," he says. "It can increase a child's mental-health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and it can hamper educational achievement in that child."

Bell says even the simplest of things such as talking to a parent over the phone can be cost prohibitive for families.

"It's incredibly costly for kids and families to have telephone calls with an incarcerated parent," says Bell. "And that makes it really challenging for them to stay in touch with that parent."

The Casey report says that an inmate makes between 40 cents and $1 a day for his or her work, making it impossible for them to save enough money to help sustain themselves and their children after their release.

Stephanie Carson/Judy Steffes, Public News Service - NC