Crime and Justice

Bill would study services for children of incarcerated parents

A bill making its way through the Legislature aims to help lawmakers decide how best to help the children of incarcerated parents.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday voted on a new draft of H.325, a bill that calls for a study to inform future legislation.

The study will look at what services exist for children with incarcerated parents as well as what additional services will help maintain healthy relationships between those children and parents.

The Senate draft is a strike-all amendment to the House legislation which originally called for a bill of rights for children of incarcerated parents.

The study will be a team effort by the Secretary of the Agency of Human Services, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections and the commissioner of the Department for Children and Families.

Parent-child visits, parenting classes and how to use “family-centered” strategies throughout the criminal justice system are among topics to be studied, the bill says.

It also will look at using the Family Impact Statements in the court process.

The bill asks that recommendations that stem from the study align with the state’s Integrated Family Services Initiative.

The study will also look for ways to make sure the Department for Children and Families and the Department of Corrections coordinate services.

It will also look at the agencies’ data systems, to track and coordinate services for children of incarcerated parents as well as the cost of necessary services.

The bill asks that the study consult the following stakeholders: Department for Children and Families, Department of Mental Health, the Prisoners’ Rights Office the LUND Family Center, the Parent Child Center Network and kinship organizations.

The report is due to the Legislature by Jan. 15.

A provision of the bill allows the Department of Children and Families to access the supervision history of people on probation or parole for the purpose of child protection.

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Laura Krantz

About Laura

Laura Krantz is VTDigger's criminal justice and corrections reporter. She moved to VTDigger in January 2014 from MetroWest Daily, a Gatehouse Media newspaper based in Framingham, Mass. She won the 2013 Morley Piper First Amendment Award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for her investigation of the Ashland Police Department. She is skilled in the use of public records to find the real story. She is a 2010 graduate of Boston University, where she studied comparative religion.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Laura on Twitter @laurakrantz

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