Vera Issue Brief
The relationships between family visitation and an incarcerated youth's behavior and performance in school are examined. The project studied was Families as Partners, a collaboration between the Vera Institute and Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS). Sections of this brief include: introduction; background about the collaboration; data and methodology for this study; findings regarding the impact of visitation on behavior and school performance—youth characteristics, family contact frequency, behavior incidents, and school performance; and conclusion. "Vera researchers found that family visitation of incarcerated youth was associated with improved behavior and school performance. These findings highlight the importance of visitation and suggest that juvenile correctional facilities should try to change their visitation policies and related practices to promote more frequent visitation with families" (p. 1).
Anyone involved with programming for incarcerated youth should read this report. It can be used to bolster ones attempt to develop family visitation programs in your agency. The positive impact of family visitation on the behavior and school performance of incarcerated youth is examined. The number of behavioral incidents decreased as visits increased. School performance for those who had frequent visits was 4.6 points higher than those youth who were not visited. “Despite the benefits of family contact for youth, families often face significant barriers when visiting incarcerated loved ones. Preliminary findings from this project revealed that distance was a significant barrier to visitation; youth who were placed far from home were less likely to receive an in-person visit while incarcerated. Because there are many factors involved when making placement decisions, facilities can benefit immensely by changing their visitation policies to encourage frequent contact between family and incarcerated youth” (p. 4).