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1 in 14 school age kids have an incarcerated parent

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Think about that statistic for a moment. Please don't glide on by. How many kids are in your child's or grandchild's classrooms? IES/NCES says that for the 2017-2018 school year in Indiana there were 30.8 children per elementary school classroom (link below). Let's set aside the fact that a single elementary school teacher is responsible for that many kids - there's lots to deal with there on its own. But that means at least two of this teacher's students will be dealing with all the emotions and all the trauma of having a parent in jail or prison.

I'm convinced that number is low in our community. This number accounts for parents defined as biological or adopted parents. I have coached youth and high school sports for 30 years and I can tell you that "parent" for many kids is defined as grandparent, stepparent, or extended family. If you were to account for that expanded definition, 1 in 14 is likely off by about 15-20%.

If a parent is incercerated the child has to often communicate with adults as to why that parent is not around. Their peers know about it. It is almost impossible for the child to communicate with the parent...have you ever navigated any of the for-profit channels of communication families have to "visit" with or write to their loved ones who are incarcerated? Let me tell you they are not Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime or as easy as gmail or a cell phone call. The next time you see a group of elementary school kids, take a moment to count how many there are. I just saw a daycare group walking to the local park in the town where I work. There were 23 of them. That means one or two were living this trauma-inducing nightmare.

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