Agenda for Children

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New KIDS COUNT report: More than 94,000 Louisiana kids have a parent who has served time

April 25, 2016

The Annie E. Casey Foundation called upon state and local policymakers to adopt policies to help millions of American children who struggle with emotional and financial instability as a result of having an incarcerated parent.

While Louisiana spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year on corrections, very few resources are available to support the children left behind. In its new KIDS COUNT® policy report, the Casey Foundation offered commonsense steps officials can take to address the increased poverty and stress that children of incarcerated parents experience – which research shows can have as much impact on their well-being as abuse or domestic violence.

More than 94,000 Louisiana children—8 percent of all children in the state—have experienced the separation of a parent due to incarceration, according to A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities. Louisiana’s percentage of children who have experienced parental incarceration is slightly larger than the national average of 7 percent, and it is more than two and a half times that of New Jersey, the state with the lowest percentage of children with parents who have been incarcerated. Although the societal and financial implications of mass incarceration have prompted proposed solutions from policymakers, advocates and activists, the needs of children who face increased risks and significant obstacles in life are often overlooked.

The Casey Foundation’s three policy recommendations are:

  1. Ensure children are supported while parents are incarcerated and after they return.
  2. Connect parents who have returned to the community with pathways to employment.
  3. Strengthen communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by incarceration and reentry, to promote family stability and opportunity.

Visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation's web site to learn more and download a copy of the report.

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