Watch CBS News

Project seeks to support Minnesota children with incarcerated parents

1 in 5 teens in Greater MN have an incarcerated parent
1 in 5 teens in Greater MN have an incarcerated parent 00:40

MINNEAPOLIS -- A survey found that one in every five teens outside of Minnesota's urban areas are impacted by parental incarceration, but the Minnesota Department of Health is seeking to change that through a special project.

Together, MDH, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Sheriff's Associaton, six county jails and other partners created a program meant to help children and their parents in jail maintain family ties.

An estimated two-thirds of adults in Minnesota jails are parents with children under the age of 18, with the majority having lived their children prior to their arrest.

According to the 2022 Minnesota Student Survey,  between 15% to 22% of eighth, ninth, and 11th graders across Greater Minnesota reported having a parent or guardian incarcerated currently or in the past. Comparatively, 10% of similar students in the metro reported having an incarcerated parent or guardian.

Rates of parental incarceration by region. Minnesota Department of Health / 2022 Minnesota Student Survey

Children with an incarcerated parent have an increased risk of illness, poor mental health, substance abuse and poor academic outcomes, but staying connected can reduce those negative impacts, the University of Minnesota and Wilder Research discovered.

The project has facilitated more than 3,500 video visits and has had hundreds of parents complete parenting education programs in jails, local prisons and substance abuse treatment facilities.

The sponsors of the project say it supported reduced-cost or free video visits for parents to talk with their children and increased access to in-person visiting opportunities.

MDH and the University of Minnesota also formed the "Minnesota Model Jail Practices Learning Community" aimed at supporting parent-child relationships, increasing child well-being, improving public safety and reducing the likelihood of reoffending. 

Minnesota Model Jail Practices Learning Community by mnhealth on YouTube

According to MDH, a majority of incarcerated parents expressed interest in participating in a parenting education program.

A budget proposal from Gov. Tim Walz would expand the program to allow more counties to participate. Currently, the only participants are Carlton County Jail, Olmsted County Jail, Ramsey County Correctional Facility, Renville County Jail, Sherburne County Jail and Stearns County Jail.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.