What You Should Know About Working with Children of Prisoners and
Their Families (and Why You Should Care)


Dr. Toni Johnson Ph.D., LMSW  and Ashley Richards

Job Title

Associate Professor, BSW Student




Foster and/or Adoptive Parents, Biological Families, Service Providers, Case Managers, Judges/Lawyers,
Students, Advocates, Policy Makers

Presentation Summary:

Children of prisoners are often referred to as hidden victims of crime and have been identified as a seriously under-served group of “at risk” youth. 
On any given day, more than 4 million U.S. children are affected by parental incarceration and struggle with emotional, social, psychological,
economic, and behavioral issues.  As the U.S. prison population grows, particularly the number of women inmates, service providers are more
frequently challenged with manifestations of these issues. Dr. Johnson will provide information about incarcerated parents and will present an
overview of the effects of incarceration on the family with a specific focus on the children. This workshop will be of interest to anyone working
with or concerned about these families.

-       To present the social, emotional, psychological, and economic impact that parental incarceration has on the family, particularly the children

-       To identify the characteristics and needs of the children of prisoners

-       To outline micro, mezzo and macro level intervention strategies for service provider


Toni Johnson, an associate professor in the School of Social Welfare, joined the University of Kansas in the fall of 2005.  Professor Johnson received her doctorate in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin where she also received a Master of Science in Social Work degree..  Toni has 10 years of experience teaching and conducting research in higher education and over 20 years experience providing direct mental health services to women, children, and families in a variety of clinical settings.  Her professional and research interests include accurate assessment of and intervention with prison inmates and the families of inmates, especially their children.  She has co-authored several publications related to the topic of children of incarcerated parents and has provided consultation to a number of national programs serving these youth and their families.

Ashley Richard, BSW Student Intern

Ashley is currently a senior in the undergraduate Social Work  program at the University of Kansas and is beginning her second year as a member of the School’s multicultural scholars program.  Over the past three years, Ashley has worked with elementary aged children at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, KS.  Her professional interests are focused on providing effective care to children and youth with emotional and physical challenges.