Of special concern to HHS are the nearly 7.5 million children, more than 10 percent of children under age 18, who have a parent who is currently incarcerated or on probation or parole (Mumloa, 2006). These children are disproportionately minority and poor (Glaze and Muruschak, 2008). Bruce Western and Christopher Wildeman (2009) estimate that among children born since 1990, four percent of whites and 25 percent of blacks will witness their father being sent to prison by their fourteenth birthday. In 2008, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, Joseph Murray and David Farrington published the results of a Campbell Collaborative Systematic Review of evidenced-based research entitled the Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Child Antisocial Behavior and Mental Health. Reviewing the most rigorously conducted research on the effects of parental incarceration, they found that children of prisoners have about three times the risk of antisocial behavior compared to their peers. Additionally, Steven Raphael (2010) notes that the lifetime likelihood of serving prison time for a black male child born in 2001 stands at 32 percent; whereas, for Hispanic males, the lifetime risk is 17.2 percent, and for white males that risk is six percent.
Over half of parents in prison (40 percent of mothers and 58 percent of fathers) indicated that they were not living with any of their children prior to incarceration, making it highly likely that many parents in prison have child support issues that need to be resolved (Glaze and Maruschak 2008). The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has made resolving child support issues for incarcerated noncustodial parents a priority for its discretionary grant funding. Since FY 2000, OCSE funded over a dozen projects that involve collaborations among child support agencies, Departments of Corrections and community-based organizations. The grants provide child support services to individuals participating in the Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI), which is administered by the Departments of Justice and Labor (DOJ and DOL).