Family Separation

Children develop best when surrounded by people who care about their well-being and love them. However, there are a variety of situations that can occur in a child's life that can remove them from the immediate care of their parents and families. These situations can cause stress on children and create new challenges in parenting and supporting them. We all play an essential role in helping children to regulate their emotions and cope with loss, especially the removal, even if temporary, of a primary caregiver. Provided below are resources and supports for children who have had a change in caregiving due to Divorce and SeparationIncarceration of a Parent or Family Member, and Military Deployments.

Divorce and Separation

Divorce is hard on parents and children. It requires all family members to transition and adjust their communication and roles with their children. Divorce and separation can have unforeseen consequences on the emotional, social, and physical well-being of children. It is crucial to have clear and age-appropriate conversations with children, which can be hard for parents who are coping with their feelings of heart-ache, anger, or a sense of loss. 

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Virtual Resources


8 Strategies for Helping Kids Adjust to a Divorce. Psychology Today tips for helping children cope with divorce. 

Helping Your Child Through Divorce. Kid's Health provides support from 'breaking the news' to ongoing support for the transition.

How to Tell Kids About Divorce: An Age-by-Age Guide. Today's Parent provides age-appropriate ways to talk to children about divorce.

Dealing with Divorce. Sesame Street website that includes activities, videos, and other interactive materials to support your child in coping with divorce.

Apps reviews the eight best apps for co-parenting after a divorce.


Raising Strong Kids Through Divorce podcast.

NRP story "What if We Lived in Two Houses? Talking Kids Through Divorce."

Additional Readings

Fact sheets

10 Ways to Support Your Child Through Your Divorce.


Helping Children and Families Deal with Divorce and Separation. Pediatrics Journal article.

The Best Possible Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Through Divorce. Ideas.Ted article with tips for supporting yourself and children through a divorce.

How to get through a divorce while in quarantine together. Today Show article providing tips for parenting while divorced during Covid19.


Book Riot recommended books for children about divorce.


Dr. Debra Harris provides an overview of the role parents play in helping children cope with divorce.

Kids in the House tips for supporting children of divorce.

 Voices of a child of divorce.

Incarceration or a Parent or Family Member

Incarceration is a traumatic and emotional event for the entire family. New challenges arise with parenting from a distance, keeping the family connected, and supporting the emotional needs of children. When it is safe for children, we must support the health and well-being of children by maintaining communication, visitation, and physical connection between children and parents.

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Virtual Resources


Telling the Children FAQ. The National Prisoners’ Families Helpline provides tip sheet shares FAQs about children of prisoners and offers fellowship resources for families affected by incarceration.

Supporting Youth with Incarcerated Parents: For Social Workers. Video, discussion guide, and resources for social workers working with children with incarcerated parents.

Coping with Incarceration. Sesame Street describes how parents can explain incarceration to their children and how to normalize the child's feelings about their incarcerated parent.

Children of Incarcerated Parents. National Institute of Corrections provides research, policy briefs, program reviews, data, and additional resources.


Prison Life Podcast, "The Prison Family Journey."

Institute for Research on Poverty podcast, "Attachment Behaviors in Children with Incarcerated Fathers."


Connecting with Incarcerated Parents is Easier with Photo Patch, an App Developed by a Teen. Teen Vogue article.

Photo Patch app [Android]   [Apple]

Additional Readings

Fact Sheets

Tips Sheet for Providers: Supporting Children Who Have an Incarcerated Parent. tipsheet.

FAQ about Children of Prisoners from Prison Fellowship.

Children of Incarcerated Parents Fact Sheet by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.


Let’s Make It Easier for Kids to Visit Incarcerated Parents. The Marshal Project overviews the benefits of the family visits to children of incarcerated parents.

Kids of Incarcerated Parents Have More Substance Abuse, Anxiety. Psych Central article about risk factors of children with incarcerated parents.

NPR short read, "Keeping Kids Connected with Their Jailed Parents."

How to Help a Child Whose Parent is in Jail. Family Today article.



Pragmatic Mom's list of 10 books featuring children with incarcerated parents. 

Good Reads list of books about incarcerated family members.


Tips for professionals supporting children whose parents are incarcerated.


 Sesame Street video explaining defining incarceration.


Children of incarcerated parents share about their experiences.

Military Deployment

Military families face several challenges before, during, and after deployment. The cycle of deployment begins when news of deployment is shared with the family. As departure grows closer, a period of detachment and withdrawal between family members may occur. Children may feel angry or as if their parent is abandoning them by leaving. When a family member returns home, each person will have changed in ways that require adjustment within the family.

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Virtual Resources

Military OneSource. A website with resources for military families about all aspects of military life. 

Military Kids Connect. Web-based videos, articles, and a message board where kids can connect with one another. 

Military Families. Sesame Street's website covers topics like birthdays, deployments, injuries, grief, relocation, homecomings, and other aspects of military life in a kid-friendly manner with interactive games, videos, and more.

Staying Close During Deployment. When to talk to your child about deployment and ideas to keep your family close while a family member is deployed. 


Family Communication for Returning Veterans. UM Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development.

Community for Native Veterans. UM Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development.

Creating Community for Veterans from Finding Home to Whitewater Rafting. UM Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development.

The Dream Military Family Podcast.


 Sesame Street series 'Dear Elmo' about deployment.


 Dr. Jamie Howard explains how the stress of deployment impacts families.