• March 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 2

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Tip Sheet to Help Incarcerated Parents Plan for Visits From Children

A new tip sheet from YOUTH.gov is designed to help incarcerated parents anticipate issues that may arise during visitations with their children so the visits are more positive and productive for all.

The tip sheet outlines questions that an incarcerated parent should think through before the visit, including the following:

  • What are the visitation rules (e.g., what can visitors wear and bring, how many visitors are allowed, what are the age restrictions, etc.)?
  • How will your child react to security? (Discuss expectations with the child before visitation.)
  • What is the extent of physical closeness your facility will allow (e.g., will you be separated by Plexiglas)?
  • How can you interact with your child (e.g., engage in bonding by reading a book, talking about school or sports, playing a game, etc.)?
  • Who will be bringing your child? (If you have a strained relationship with that individual, do your best to put that aside for your child's sake and leave adult conversations for another time.)
  • Are special visiting programs available (e.g., access to special child-friendly rooms with toys)?

It also includes useful pointers to consider during a visit, including the following:

  • Your child's frame of mind (may be nervous, etc.)
  • How your child may have changed since the last visit
  • Conversation points (asking questions, such as, "what's your favorite class?")
  • How to engage beyond conversation (play a game, take a photo together)
  • Time of day (children may be tired or hungry)
  • Making goodbyes easier (give children a 10-minute warning before it's time for them to leave so they can mentally prepare, discuss plans for the next visit)

Postvisit tips include the following:

  • Talk with the child's caregiver about engaging the child about the visit
  • Follow up with your child with a phone call or letter (show them there are other ways to communicate)

Tip Sheet for Incarcerated Parents: Planning for a Visit From Your Child/Children is available at https://youth.gov/sites/default/files/COIP-TipSheet-Parents_Visits_508.pdf (158 KB).

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