Criminal Justice Involvement of Families in Child Welfare: 24 Reports
Date:  05-02-2018

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare examines the negative impact of parental incarceration and offers ways to support children of justice involved families
From the Center for Advanced Studies report Criminal Justice Involvement of Families in Child Welfare:

From the Editors

Each year thousands of families are impacted by the child welfare and criminal justice systems across the United States. The two systems intersect in countless ways, and yet each of their fields of study, professional disciplines, and formal training are often very separate. Because of this, knowledge of the two systems, their intersection, and the impact on families’ lives are often siloed, and a lack of understanding, communication and cooperation contributes to negative outcomes for children and families. The two systems have much in common, each struggling with issues of client poverty, historical trauma, mental health problems and substance abuse. Additionally, a disproportionate number of individuals from communities of color and indigenous communities are represented in both systems. Individuals impacted often face a number of barriers in accessing resources and services within their communities, including housing, employment, education, financial assistance, foster care licensure, and much more. We know that in child welfare, obstacles parents face due to their criminal justice involvement greatly contribute to barriers for family reunification. With competing timelines, conflicting priorities, and differing expectations, communication and collaboration between systems is essential for all parties, particularly as parents work toward stability and success.

This issue of CW360° explores the impact and implications of the intersection of child welfare and criminal justice involvement on families. Local, state, and federal efforts to support families and eliminate barriers to success are well established. It is imperative that we learn from these efforts while drawing upon family resilience, and to think critically about how professionals within these two systems can work together. This issue explores a shift to prevention, which includes investing more into our communities, addressing poverty, and eliminating bias. Additionally, we need systems that communicate and collaborate in ensuring accountability for crimes.

Preparation for each issue of CW360° begins with an extensive literature review and an exploration of best practices in the field. Then, CASCW staff identify individuals who have emerged as leaders or have a unique contribution to write articles that offer insights on a range of policies, programs and strategies to inform the child welfare practice community. And in this case, the criminal justice community.

CW360° is divided into three sections: overview, practice, and perspectives. The overview section explores the prevalence of criminal justice and child welfare involvement in the United States, including mass incarceration and racial disparities and disproportionality. Additionally, it explores key contributing factors for involvement and summarizes some of the significant systemic barriers that impact children and families. The practice section includes articles on evidence-informed, innovative, and promising practices for supporting families involved in both systems. The perspectives section presents articles from a variety of child welfare and criminal justice stakeholders, highlighting key experiences and lessons learned.

We have included information and tools throughout this publication that will help you apply the research, practice, and perspectives to your own work setting. Please refer to the discussion questions at the end of the publication to guide conversations with staff and administrators at your agency. Please note that we have removed the reference section from the printed editions of CW360° in order to make space for additional content. You can find a full listing of the citations in PDF format on our website. We hope you find this issue informative and useful in your work. And we’d like to express a great appreciation for the dedication and hard work that professionals in the child welfare and criminal justice systems give every day to support children and families.

Read the reports here.