Dr. Luke Muentner in the Department of Pediatrics spoke to MinnPost about his research on the mental health impacts of parental incarceration and foster care. Youth who have experienced both the foster system and a parent in the penal system are more likely to face adverse health experiences, specifically mental health challenges, Dr. Muentner said. 

“The fact that we see such significantly higher likelihoods of these experiences in comparison to peers who’ve never experienced any exposure to the criminal, legal or child welfare system is really poignant,” he said.

The study found significant differences in race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic region. The study also showed high odds of anxiety, depression, self-injury, suicidal ideation and mental health diagnoses of those who have experienced being in foster care and having an incarcerated parent. 

Children who live in poverty and rural communities in Minnesota also experience these hardships. 

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