Custody and Incarceration

What happens to a child when their parent goes to prison? If a child is placed with the state agency, such as Children and Youth, a parent may still be able to visit with their child during the time that the parent is incarcerated. It is important for an incarcerated parent to do everything possible to maintain contact with their child and to be active in order to protect their parental rights. Failure to maintain contact or interest can result in a termination of parental rights and adoption if the child is in agency care. Even if visits do not occur, it is important to write, request information about the child, attend hearings and take parenting classes while in prison. If drug and alcohol abuse is an issue, it is important to seek help while incarcerated through the programs offered through the prison.

If a child is with the other parent, oftentimes, the Court does not enter a visitation schedule. Perhaps the Court does not feel compelled to make a parent who is not incarcerated bring a child to visit the prison whereas if the child is in foster care, an agency worker usually brings the child to the prison. Studies show that maintaining family relationship usually helps with the rate of recidivism. If you do choose to bring a child to the prison, you may wonder what those visits look like and what happens during the visits.

If the inmate is in Bucks County, they will be either housed in the prison or the community center. You must contact the prison to find out days and times that there are visitation hours. You should arrive early as they only have limited number of visitors and if it fills up, you will not get in. Your child must be accompanied by an adult and both the child and adult must be on a pre-approved list in order to get it. The visits last approximately a half hour and you will be herded in through security to a room with windows and a telephone. Your child’s parent will be brought into a large gym and they will find you at the window with the phone where you can speak through the glass via a phone. There is no physical contact.