From 1980 to 2000, the number of kids with a father in prison or jail rose by 500%. The latest data indicate that nearly 5 million children across America have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. Parental incarceration breaks up families — the building blocks of our communities and nation — and creates an unstable environment for kids that can have lasting effects on their development and well-being.
Children with a parent who is incarcerated are typically younger and living in low-income families of color, usually with a young single mother who has limited education. Most are younger than 10. More than 15% of kids with parents in federal prison — and more than 20% with parents in state prison — are age 4 or younger.