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Life Under Construction serves an overlooked population of mothers and children rejoining the community and reuniting as family.

An estimated 62% of women incarcerated in state prisons are mothers with children under the age of 18. About half of these children are 9 or younger. 64% of incarcerated mothers reported living with their children just prior to imprisonment.

In the United States, children who experience parental incarceration are statistically more likely than any other group to one day come into conflict with the law themselves. This is due to a combination of the stress and trauma it causes, along with the impacts of other challenges these children commonly experience: poverty, unstable home environments, and family members who may be homeless, have mental health issues or struggle with addiction.

Children whose parents come into conflict with the law, and particularly those whose parents are incarcerated, experience tremendous stress and disruption in their lives. The impact on children is significant regardless of which parent is involved with the justice system. However, children whose mothers are incarcerated often suffer more significant disruption to their lives. When a child’s father goes to prison, their mother usually continues to care for them as before. However, when a child’s mother goes to prison, the child is often forced into a new living situation (which can include moving schools and losing access to friends). This is because the majority of women in prison are mothers, and a majority of those are the sole caregiver for their children.

At Life Under Construction We understand how parental recidivism creates loss and a sense of hopelessness in children that increases or perpetuates trauma and decreases children’s coping skills.

This is why it is critical for our staff who work with children of formerly incarcerated mothers fully understand the feelings children typically struggle with during their reunion. It is important to look at the cycles of coping in families and develop strategies for providing information, support and counseling opportunities to children and their parent

Life Under Construction work begins inside California State Prisons. We believe a strong family connection maximizes a child’s stability and a woman’s chances of success upon reentry, Life Under Construction works to nurture happy, healthy, and caring relationships between incarcerated mothers and their children.

2.7 million

children currently have a parent in prison, and it’s estimated that

10 million

children have experienced parental incarceration at some point in their lives.

1 in 14 Youth in the United States report having experienced parental incarceration.

If parental incarceration were classified as a chronic health condition, it would be the SECOND MOST PREVALENT chronic condition in the U.S. for children under the age of 18 – just behind asthma

YOUTH EXPOSED to parental incarceration experience 3x as many Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).