CYFC Monthly – April 2014
1 in 43
One in 43 children in the United States has a parent behind bars. That’s essentially one child in every other American classroom. The more stomach churning fact is that this number changes to 1 in 15 African American children with a parent who is incarcerated.
Let that sink in for a moment.Despite the prevalence, children with incarcerated parents are a largely invisible population. The issue has received very little attention from researchers, policymakers or practitioners. And yet, the issues surrounding parental incarceration pose unique challenges to young children and their families — separation of parents and children, changes in living situation, increased economic hardship, visitation challenges, stigma — issues that call to action many of us who work with these children each day.
Children of incarcerated parents are at increased risk for both internalizing (e.g., depression, anxiety, withdrawal) and externalizing (e.g., delinquency, substance use) behavior problems, cognitive delays, and difficulties in school (e.g., school failure). Children with incarcerated parents are also at increased risk for insecure attachment — experiencing relationships with primary caregivers who are inconsistent, insensitive, or unresponsive to children’s social and emotional needs (Eddy & Poehlmann, 2010)These needs are significant. How can we expect children to engage with friends, learn well in school, and manage their emotions if they are occupied with these and other struggles? How are the mental health challenges we see related to a child’s experience with incarceration? What can we learn about how children experience having an incarcerated parent? Children and their families are all different, and so too are their experiences with incarceration. In the June, 2013 issue of the Children’s Mental Health eReview, “Children with Incarcerated Parents — Considering Children’s Outcomes in the Context of Family Experiences”, Dr. Rebecca Shlafer asks several questions of significance:
(Shlafer et al., 2013)
- What did the child experience?
- How old is the child?
- Which parent is incarcerated?
- What is the child’s living situation?
- Who is providing care for the child?
- How does incarceration affect family income and household stability?
- What is the quality of the caregiver-child relationship?
- Does the child have contact with the parent?
The answers to these questions help us better understand and provide services to children and families. Do you know how many families you serve may be affected by incarceration? Have you ever asked? Do you know what you can do to support children and families affected by this issue?
Join us at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Tuesday, April 29th at a day-long Research to Practice series titled “Strengthening Families in the Context of Incarceration” sponsored by the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH) and the University of Minnesota Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC). Keynote speaker Dr. Rebecca Shlafer will discuss her research on the effects and challenges of parental incarceration. Participants will have the rare opportunity to view the highly-acclaimed Mothers of Bedford, a film documenting the triumphs and challenges of parenting behind bars. They will meet Barbara (Bobby) Blanchard, featured prominently in the film as the director of the Children’s Center at New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, including the Parenting Center, Nursery and Visiting Room Family area. And Jason Sole, former inmate turned Assistant Professor and author will share his journey from prison to a successful life and the resources and relationships that helped him succeed.
At the day’s end, all three presenters will participate in an interactive conversation with participants about their own experiences, the needs of children, and practical ideas about how to understand and help families affected by incarceration. This growing conversation is important — we hope you will join us!
Visit our website to learn more and register.
Children's Mental Health Coordinator
Shlafer, R., Gerrity, E., Ruhland, E. & Wheeler, M. (2013). Children with Incarcerated Parents — Considering Children’s Outcomes in the Context of Family Experiences. Children’s Mental Health eReview. Retrieved from: /family/cyfc/our-programs/ereview/docs/June2013ereview.pdf
Understanding the Growing Brain
The research of Amanda Hodel, CYFC research assistant and doctoral student, was featured by the College of Education and Human Development. Hodel has been working with professor Katie Thomas to measure the cognitive development of children born moderate to late pre-term. Read more about her research and the journey that brought her to the College of Education and Human Development.
Rethinking Peer Review: Expanding the Boundaries for Community Engaged Scholarship
CYFC Director and CES4Health.info editor Cathy Jordan co-authored Rethinking Peer Review: Expanding the Boundaries for Community Engaged Scholarship with Sheryl Gelmon and Sarena Seifer in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement. "...the authors hope to begin seeing changes in the peer review process that embrace community expertise and enhance the quality and impact of [community engaged scholarship]."
Strengthening Families in the Context of Incarceration — 2014 Research to Practice Series
Date: April 29, 2014
Location: DECC in Duluth, MN
Children, Youth & Family Consortium is partnering with MACMH to present the 2014 Research to Practice Series as part of the Annual Mental Health Conference. What do our own stories and the research tell us about how children and families experience incarceration? How can we make decisions based on their best interests? Learn one man’s journey from prison to a successful life and the community resources and relationships that supported him. Explore the state of the research and programs with demonstrated effectiveness and based on developmentally-informed best practices. View “Mothers of Bedford", an award-winning film that follows five women incarcerated at New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, and the former Director of the Children's Center at Bedford Hills featured in the film. Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., Jason Marque Sole, ABD and Barbara "Bobby" Blanchard-Lewis, J.D. will present. Check out our videos to learn more!
MN Children & Nature Connection Brown Bag Series: How To of Nature Play: Practical tips for Engaging Kids in Nature
Date: May 9, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Location: REI Bloomington
750 American Blvd W
Bloomington, MN 55420
Join MN Children & Nature Connection for How To of Nature Play: Practical tips for Engaging Kids in Nature. GO Cards, a parent’s guide to nature play, Minnesota Weather Guide calendar, and magnifier will be provided for each attendee. The target audiences for this event are parents, day care providers and others serving young children. Please contact Cathy Jordan for further information.
Summer Public Health Institute: Community Based Participatory Research
School of Public Health
Dates: May 27- 30, 2014
Location: University of Minnesota (exact location of the course will be emailed to you)
CYFC Director Cathy Jordan along with her community partner Susan Gust will be teaching Community-Based Participatory Research at the Summer Public Health Institute. This is an introductory course about community-based participatory research (CBPR) intended for graduate students and community practitioners interested in adding CBPR to their repertoire of effective approaches to understanding and addressing social and health disparities. We will explore topics such as the purpose and applications of CBPR; partnership formation and maintenance; issues of power, trust, race, class, and social justice; conflict resolution; ethical issues; and CBPR's relationship to cultural knowledge systems. Registration closes May 20, 2014.
University and Community Announcements
Helping separated and divorced parents determine what's in the child's best interest
University of Minnesota Extension Parents Forever™, featured in Spring 2014 Source
Read how Parents Forever™ is helping families move forward and reduce the risks a family break-up can have on children. Participants in Parents Forever™ create a parenting plan, learn how to avoid putting children in the middle of conflict and learn to communicate about parenting decisions. Read more in the Spring 2014 Source.
Beyond the Classroom: How Travel Can Inspire and Enhance Children's Learning
Hosts Marti and Erin Erickson are joined by Gary Oster from the U.S. Travel Association to discuss a new study that shows how travel experiences when young can be associated with longterm educational outcomes, career choices and even income. Listen now to learn how travel to a place nearby or far can help us see life with a new perspective.
Social and Emotional Learning: Assess it to Address it
University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development
Date: May 6, 2014
Time: 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: TCF Bank Stadium — DQ Club Room and online via live webinar
Cost: Free but registration is required
This event is part of the symposium series dedicated to understanding social and emotional learning and its contribution to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. Learn what communities have done to measure youth holistically and how that data is used at the neighborhood, school and program level to enhance social and emotional learning and the opportunities that arise when doing so. The symposium will feature Gil Noam of Harvard University and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl from the University of British Columbia.
What Went Wrong? Reflecting and Learning from Community-Engaged Research
Date: July 11-12, 2014
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Register to attend this conference featuring keynote address by María Torre, Ph.D. and Brett Stoudt, Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Join others working for social justice in an active dialogue about what it means for communities and universities to practice deeply engaged research that is reflective, questions power dynamics and works toward shifts in practice.
Poverty, Learning and Connection in Youth Work and Recognizing Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Youth
Youth Intervention Programs Association
Date: April 23, 2014
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: 4321 Allendale Avenue Duluth, MN or streamed online
Cost: Free for YIPA members or $30 and $45 per session
Poverty, Learning and Connection in Youth Work will be presented by Cheryl Meld. Course objectives include: develop understanding of poverty related effects on educational performance, learn strategies useful in overcoming motivational barriers among youth and gain skills for identifying and using youth resilience in interventions. Recognizing the Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Youth will be presented by Cynthia Fashawis. Course objectives include: Typical youth development, early warning signs in children and youth, overview of mental illnesses, executive function and how to talk to parents about mental health concerns.