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Rebecca Shlafer

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Areas of Expertise:

About Rebecca

Shlafer's research focuses on the health and development of children and families affected by the criminal legal system. Shlafer's research focuses on the developmental outcomes of children with parents in prison or jail, the health of incarcerated people, and the policies and programs that can promote health equity among justice-involved people.


Improve Health for Adults on Community Supervision

  • Michelle Suzanne Phelps
  • Kelly Lyn Mitchell

In the News

Quoted by Bret McCabe in "The Invisible Women," Johns Hopkins Magazine, May 19, 2019.
Quoted by Melissa Duclos in "Helping Incarcerated Parents Build Bonds With Their Children: A CI Twitter Chat," Children's Institute, June 27, 2018.
Quoted by Max Chao in "Doulas Help Maintain Family Ties for Pregnant Inmates," The Minnesota Daily, July 24, 2017.
Quoted by Mindy Fetterman in "Face-to-Face Family Visits Return to Some Jails," Pew, February 15, 2017.


"Corrections Officers’ Knowledge and Perspectives of Maternal and Child Health Policies and Programs for Pregnant Women in Prison" (with Virginia Pendleton and Jennifer B. Saunders ). Health & Justice, 8(1), 1. 8, no. 1 (2020): 1.

Examines corrections officers' knowledge and perceptions of policies and programs that support maternal and child health in one state prison. We were specifically interested in their understanding of pregnancy and parenting education programs, doula support, and anti-shackling policies.

"Reproductive justice for incarcerated mothers and advocacy for their infants and young children" (with Rachel R. Hardeman and Elizabeth A. Carlson). Infant Mental Health 40, no. 5 (2019): 725-74.

Explores a reproductive justice framework to consider the needs of incarcerated mothers and their infants, before, during, and after incarceration

"Are We Meeting Their Needs?: Well-child, Dental, and Mental Health Care for Youth in Juvenile Correctional Facilities in Minnesota" (with Calla Brown and Laurel Davis). Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 31, no. 1 (2020): 171-184.

This study used data from a statewide survey of youth in juvenile correctional facilities to assess their access to primary care, dental care, and mental health care. We also considered youths' self-reported physical and mental health concerns and how these concerns were related to access to care.

"Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children: Comparisons Between State and National Estimates" (with Grant Duwe and Lauren Hindt). The Prison Journal 99, no. 3 (2019): 310-328..

Describes the prevalence of parental incarceration in Minnesota. We collected data from every new admission to our state's Department of Corrections over a 6-month period of time. We find that most men and women in prison are parents with minor children. Incarcerated women were more likely to report being parents than incarcerated men and women were also more likely to report living with one or more of their minor children before their incarceration. Most parents reported that they would like to participate in a parenting class, if one were available to them.

"Fathers in Jail and their Minor Children: Paternal Characteristics and Associations with Father-Child Contact" (with Laurel Davis, Lauren Hindt, Lindsay Weymouth, Hilary Cuthrell, Cynthia Burnson, and Julie Poehlmann-Tynan). Journal of Child and Family Studies 29 (2020): 791–801.

Describes the characteristics of 315 fathers incarcerated in four county jails and their experiences of contact with their minor children.

"Physical Health and Disability Among U.S. Adults Recently on Community Supervision" (with Tyler N. A. Winkelman, Michelle S. Phelps, Kelly Lyn Mitchell, and Latasha Jennings). Journal of Correctional Health Care (2020).

In this study, we used data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health to examine the rates of physical health problems and disability among adults on community supervision (e.g., probation, parole).

"NIH Family Members Giving Back: Rebecca Shlafer" (with Dr. Francis Collins). (2017).