estimated 835,000 children in California
have a parent in jail, prison, or on parole or
probation at any one time.
Many more experience the arrest of a
March 2000, the California State Library’s
California Research Bureau (CRB) published Children
of Incarcerated Parents, by Charlene Simmons.
This report, prepared at the request of
then-Assembly member Kerry Mazzoni, focused the
state policy spotlight on this largely invisible
group of children who experience tremendous
difficulty and upheaval when their parents are
arrested and incarcerated, and appear in many
state-funded systems such as foster care and the
juvenile justice system.
initial report triggered a five-year-long research
and education project in the CRB, resulting in a
total of five reports and a number of policy
of these reports, In Danger of Falling Through
the Cracks: Children of Arrested Parents by
Marcus Nieto, summarized the results of a survey
sent to all California
local police departments, county sheriff’s
departments, and social welfare departments.
Of the many important findings, perhaps the
most significant was that two-thirds of the
responding law enforcement departments reported
they had no written policy outlining their
officers’ responsibilities for minor children at
the time of a parent’s arrests.
Sheriff Bob Brooks of Ventura County makes opening remarks at the CRB summit.
April 18, 2006, the California Research Bureau
held a one-day summit to highlight the challenges
and opportunities in keeping children safe at the
time of a parent’s arrest.
Over 150 participants from more than 20
counties and state agencies convened at the Hyatt
Regency in downtown Sacramento to learn what is
known, both in California and elsewhere, about
children’s safety at the time of arrest,
including how various jurisdictions are responding
to the need for a coordinated and consistent
response between law enforcement and child welfare
from several counties,
Oregon, and the Yale
discussed their approaches to preventing trauma
and providing support for children when their
parents are arrested.
The CRB will soon be publishing a policy
brief based on these summit presentations.
were welcomed to the Summit
by Assembly member Pedro Nava, who authored
legislation last year giving parents who are
arrested the right to make two phone calls from
jail to arrange for their children’s care.
Assembly member Nava has introduced
legislation this year (AB 1942) encouraging local
jurisdictions to develop law enforcement protocols
and requiring the Peace Officer Standards and
Training (POST) Commission to develop guidelines
and training for keeping children safe when a
parent is arrested.
This legislation is based on prior research
and policy roundtables convened by the CRB on
children of arrested and incarcerated parents.
The one-day summit provided additional
input and feedback to inform state policy
development on this issue.
member Pedro Nava welcomes
the summit and prior work by the CRB on children
of arrested and incarcerated parents were made
possible by the generous support of the Zellerbach
more information on this issue, please contact
Charlene Simmons, assistant director, at
651-9759, or Ginny Puddefoot, senior research and
policy specialist, at 653-7653.
James Lewis from the Yale Child Study Center
speaks about the trauma of arrest on
Dacanay speaks about her personal
experiences as a child of an arrested and
speaker Lorraine Dacanay with her children.
from San Francisco speaking about their