Parental Incarceration and Children’s Living Arrangements in the United States

Dylan B. Jackson, Alexander Testa, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the current study is to examine associations between parental incarceration and children’s living arrangements in the United States. Data from the 2016–2018 National Survey of Children’s Health are utilized in the present study (N = 102,341). Difference-of-means t-tests and multinomial logistic regression were employed to analyze the data. Nearly 3 in 4 children with no history of parental incarceration lived with married parents, yet only 1 in 7 children with lifetime exposure to parental incarceration did. Furthermore, while exclusively non-parent caregiver arrangements were exceedingly rare for children with no lifetime exposure to parental incarceration (~ 2.5%), more than one-quarter of children exposed to parental incarceration were in exclusively non-parent caregiver arrangements. In homes with non-parent caregivers, parental incarceration is associated with a reduced prevalence of stepparent caregivers, yet an increased prevalence of grandparent, foster parent, and aunt/uncle caregivers. Additionally, over 70% of grandparent-caregiver households where children have experienced parental incarceration are skipped-generation households. The findings point to a substantial need to support diverse family structures in the wake of parental incarceration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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