Using national child welfare data, the authors examined a subset of foster children (7%) who entered care due to parental incarceration in the U.S.
The authors found that children of incarcerated parents were younger (median age of 4 vs. 6), more often White (47% vs. 42%), and less often Black (15% vs. 20%) when compared to other foster children. Parental use of alcohol (12% v. 6%) and drugs (42% v. 26%) were both more common among children who entered due to PI compared to those who entered for other reasons. Our understanding of this population is limited by inadequate data collection procedures that fail to account for societal changes created by mass incarceration. The data indicate that investments in substance use treatment could decrease the number of children entering care.