The number of children with incarcerated parents has skyrocketed in the past few decades, largely as a result of drug arrests and states’ “three strikes” laws that require long-term prison sentences for a third offense. The number of women in prison went up by 587% between 1980 and 2011, rising from 15,118 to 111,387, according to the Sentencing Project. Including women in local jails, more than 200,000 women were incarcerated as of 2012. Those working with young children are likely to meet children of incarcerated parents, and can work both in the public sphere and in personal relationships to help them through their very impacted lives.

After a mother’s arrest children are typically sent to live with relatives, usually their grandmother, or they go into foster ...

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