Kids rely on their parents to provide a safe home where all of their emotional, physical, and financial needs can be met. Unfortunately, in Kentucky more than one in 10 children have had a parent separated from them due to incarceration—the 6th highest rate in the nation. 

Parental incarceration is an Adverse Childhood Experience that has been referred to as a “shared sentence” due to the short and long-term effects it has on a child’s behavioral, educational, and health outcomes. Even short stays in jail for a parent can create negative consequences for children and for the parent’s ability to financially support the family. And due to systemic inequities within the criminal justice system, Black children are disproportionately impacted by having a loved one incarcerated.

Given the impact parental incarceration has on children, especially children of color, we seek solutions to keep kids connected with their parents during incarceration.

Data supports that maintaining and supporting parental connections can reduce childhood adversity and contribute to successful reentry. Keeping parents connected with their children during incarceration not only benefits children, but also the jail and greater community. However, we know there are challenges to jails implementing child-friendly practices in visitation spaces. 

Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation are partnering to learn the capacity and interest Kentucky communities and jails have to increase the use of child-friendly practices in visitation spaces. We are conducting a community-wide survey to understand how jails in Kentucky currently interact with children and families impacted by incarceration. We are also gathering information about visiting practices from jailers. 

If you are an individual or organization that interacts with children of incarcerated parents, incarcerated parents, or jails, we encourage you to complete this survey by February 18, 2022. All answers will remain anonymous unless we receive permission to contact you. Please email Karena Cash at with any questions.