1 in 5 Minnesotan teens affected by parental incarceration

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently published a survey that shows one in five Minnesota teens is affected by parental incarceration.

This makes it one of the most commonly reported adverse childhood experiences in Minnesota.

Research from the University of Minnesota and the Wilder Foundation found that having an incarcerated parent can increase the risk of illness, poor mental health, substance abuse, and poor academic outcomes.

Research from the MDH shows that between 15 to 22 percent of eighth, ninth, and 11th-grade students in Greater Minnesota have an incarcerated parent, compared to the 10 percent in the Metro area. Minnesota’s Northwest and Northeast regions show the highest percentage of kids with incarcerated parents.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, in a 2017 study, found that two-thirds of adults in Minnesota jails are parents to children under 18. Most of them lived with at least one child before their arrest.

Across Minnesota in 2022, 13 percent of students reported currently or previously having incarcerated parents compared to 18 percent in 2019. The decline corresponds with reductions in incarceration during the pandemic– which has since been reversed.