U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Written Policies for Responding to Children After a Parent or Caretaker Is Arrested

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 72 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2005 Pages: 135-136,138,140,142,144,145
Date Published
September 2005
7 pages
Following a request by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that law enforcement agencies send it any written policies and procedures they have for responding to arrestees' children, this article discusses issues related to such policies and procedures.
The NIJ request is part of its current effort to compile and analyze examples of such written policies for the purpose of sharing them with agencies who request assistance in developing their own guidelines. There are many issues that must be addressed when a parent or caretaker of a child or children is arrested. These include determining whether a second parent is available to care for the child; and if not, who is willing and qualified to care for the child while the arrested parent is unable to perform parenting responsibilities. Another issue is the response to children traveling with a guardian who is arrested during a traffic stop some distance from their home and no family member is available or able to drive the child home. The overarching issue is who is responsible for setting procedures and making decisions regarding the management of children of arrestees. Questions surrounding these issues have been posed to appellate courts, but the courts have yet to provide a unanimous and consistent voice in these matters. This article reviews some of these court cases with reference to law enforcement legal liability. The article also reports on research studies that have examined how local law enforcement agencies are dealing with issues related to the children of arrestees. The article concludes by noting that two of the rights specified in the Children of Incarcerated Parents' Bill of Rights (2003) pertain to support and protection for arrestees' children.

Date Published: September 1, 2005