Children of prisoners - maintaining family ties
Useful contacts and practical resources
While this list is not exhaustive, it captures a range of useful resources for supporting children of prisoners.
APF is a campaigning organisation working to raise the profile of children and families of prisoners. They manage the National Prisoners and Families Helpline, which is run with Ormiston Children and Families Trust and POPS (see below). APF offers confidential advice and support to families of prisoners, including how to keep in touch, how to navigate the prisons and systems and where to seek other support.
The helpline number is 0808 808 2003.
APF also have a wide range of publications, useful for training, awareness-raising and talking to children and families. These include a series of pamphlets about
- telling the children
- living with separation
- keeping in touch
- preparing for release
- sent to prison.
They have also produced story books to help children come to terms with their experiences, namely ’Finding Dad‘ and ’Danny’s Mum’ and ’Tommy’s Dad‘.
‘Homeward bound’ is an excellent DVD and acts out the experiences, thoughts and fears of a family where the father is due for release from prison. It is a thought-provoking tool for training, as well as something that could be of use to children and families.
APF have also developed a national directory. This has up-to-date information about services all over the UK. It includes details of prisons, visitors’ centres, and other relevant services such as those offering support for substance misuse. Access to the directory and publications can be found through their website below.
Unit 21, Carlson Court, 116 Putney Bridge Road London SW15 2NQ
As well as providing services to children across Northern Ireland, Barnardo’s has produced a series of excellent tools for working with children and families of prisoners, as well as materials for children and parents themselves.
- ‘Family ties: information for families when a mum is in prison’ is a pack containing information for children and young people, carers and mums themselves.
- ‘Staying in touch’ is a guide for imprisoned fathers.
- ‘Supporting a child when a parent is in prison’ is a pamphlet for families to help them support children.
- ‘It’s a tough time for everyone’ is a comic-strip story, now also available in animated DVD format. This is aimed at children and young people and explores issues ranging from the emotional impact to visiting a prison.
Additionally, Barnardo’s run the Parenting Matters project in three of the prisons in the province, delivering parenting programmes and preparing the prisoner and their family for release.
542–544 Upper Newtownards Road Belfast BT4 3HE Telephone: 028 9067 2366 Fax: 028 9067 2399 Website: www.barnardos.org.uk/northernireland.htm
Department for Children, Schools and Families/Ministry of Justice ‘Children of offenders’ review.
This review is considering how to support children of prisoners to achieve better outcomes.
Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE)
Children of Prisoners Europe is a pan-European network which encourages innovative perspectives and practice to ensure that the rights of children of imprisoned parents are fully respected and that action is taken to secure their wellbeing and healthy development. The network is a membership-based organisation made up of non-governmental organisations and individuals across Europe and beyond, linked by a staff team based at its Paris headquarters. The network’s activities include: raising awareness among child-related agencies, prison services and policymakers; fostering cross-sectoral collaboration and promoting initiatives that take the needs of children of prisoners into account.
Every Child Matters
Every Child Matters: Change for Children is a new approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. The Government's aim is for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, to have the support they need to:
- be healthy
- stay safe
- enjoy and achieve
- make a positive contribution
- achieve economic well-being.
Families Outside is a Scottish charity which helps hundreds of families each year. They have developed a good partnership with the Scottish Prison Service and work closely with the family contact and development officers in each prison. Through research, training and partnership work, Families Outside aims to raise awareness of the needs of families affected by imprisonment so that they can get the information and support they need to cope.
Families Outside run the Scottish prisoners' families helpline. This is an independent service for families and friends affected by imprisonment, offering practical advice and emotional support. The helpline can be reached through a free phone number: 0500 839 383. They have a number of useful publications, including the following factsheets:
- Where to go for help
- Worried about self-harm or suicide?
- Visiting someone in a Scottish prison
- Travel/transport to Scottish prisons
- Time in custody
- Talking to children about imprisonment
- Visiting prison with your children
- Home detention curfew
- Prison visits – do's & don'ts
Families Outside has also produced information for families at court, and about ‘through care’ (the support offered to a prisoner during their sentence).
Additionally, they have undertaken research such as ‘Teenagers with a parent in prison’ and ‘Prison without bars’: needs, support, and good practice for work with prisoners’ families’.
Families Outside 19a Albany Street Edinburgh EH1 3QN
Gloucestershire Local Education Authority
Gloucestershire Local Education Authority has produced a policy 'for the education of children with a parent or close relative in prison’. The aims of this policy are:
- to raise awareness of the needs of children and young people with a parent, partner or close relative in prison
- to secure their educational achievement and attendance
- to promote social inclusion.
To view the policy in full go to: www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=3801
Provides services to prisoners' families to help them overcome problems faced by having a family member in prison. The purpose of the charity is to help maintain good family ties. They provide a range of services in visitor centres at HMP Brimingham, Stafford, Brinsford YOI, and Featherstone.
Halow (Birmingham) PO Box 7081 Birmingham B18 4AN
Telephone: 0121 551 9799
HMP Maghaberry, Northern Ireland
HMP Maghaberry has trained family support officers. These are prison officers with responsibility for family liaison and support, both within the prison and in linking families into agencies in the community. They are available to families by telephone and in person.
HMP Maghaberry 17 Old Road Upper Ballinderry Lisburn, BT28 2PT
Telephone: 028 9261 6067 Website: www.niprisonservice.gov.uk
Kids VIP provide training across the prison estate to prison staff about making prison visits as child-friendly as possible. This includes information about good practice, how to replicate it and guidance and support on setting up child-centred family visits. The aim of Kids VIP is to enable children maintain their relationships with an imprisoned parent. Training is available for:
- prison governors and officers
- visitor centre staff
- volunteers and other play workers.
Kids VIP have also produced a good practice guide ‘Children visiting prisons: sharing good practice’. This is a useful tool for anyone who has contact with prisons, or is supporting children and families to maintain family ties. ‘Kids visiting prison’ is a DVD highlighting the issues for children visiting prison. It shows the process children have to go through in terms of security and gaining access to the institution, as well the experience of a normal domestic visit and a child-centred visit. Again, this is an excellent training tool and would be of benefit to anyone who is supporting children visiting prisons.
Kids VIP PO Box 51217 London SE11 4ZD
National Offender Management Service: children and families pathway
This states that children and families can play a significant role in supporting an offender to make and sustain changes which reduce re-offending. However, many offenders’ relationships are broken or fragmented as a result of their offending, leaving their families unsupported, and increasing the likelihood of inter-generational offending, mental health and financial problems.
This pathway raises the issue of support for offenders' family relationships and is very much linked to the five outcomes in Every Child Matters. NOMS are funding the Families Do Matter project in the West Midlands.
NEPACS is a voluntary, independent, community-based charity that supports offenders, ex-offenders and their families. Volunteers work to provide visitors' centres and children’s play areas at prisons throughout the North East. NEPACS also organise special visits for children and families, run events and produce publications to raise awareness.
Contact details NEPACS 22 Old Elvet Durham City DH1 3HW
Family Links is a programme to help people cope with having a family member in prison. It is offered to the families of all prisoners in Northern Ireland and is funded by the Probation Board, the Youth Justice Agency, the NI Prison Service and the Nationwide Foundation. It is underpinned by the Resettlement Strategy Implementation Plan. The service offers both practical and emotional support.
The Family Links Service ensures that all families are offered independent advice and support within 48 hours of a person entering prison. In partnership with probation services, each prisoner is asked to identify family members and children affected by their imprisonment on committal. If permission is given details are faxed to Family Links who aim to contact them by telephone on the same day, as well as sending an information pack specific to each prison. All families are offered immediate practical information over the telephone and if a family member (adult or child) requires further support they can access:
- one-to-one support (in person or by telephone)
- home visits
- referrals to and advocacy with other agencies
- information on other agencies which can help, and how to access them
- advice and information on benefits, housing, debt
- transport to any of the three prisons or the juvenile justice centre
- help with childcare
- links to visitors’ centres and prison visit staff.
NIACRO has also produced extremely useful resources for children and families and professionals offering support:
- ‘The silent sentence’ is a DVD describing the services available and the issues faced by the thousands of families affected every year by imprisonment
- ‘Information about prison for people at court’ is a leaflet detailing vital information for families about keeping in touch
- ‘Outside help’ is a booklet providing a range of practical information about maintaining contact, support services, benefits, accommodation and release.
Ormiston works across the majority of the prisons in the Eastern region. They have been working successfully in this field for many years and have expertise in many areas. They staff the visitor centres, run accredited parenting programmes and special visits in the prisons, work with children in the community and produce resources and information for families and those who work with them.
Partnership with other organisations is highly valued by Ormiston. They offer a range of training and awareness-raising, including a programme for foster carers, social work students and schools. All of the following resources are available from Ormiston:
- ‘Working with children and families of prisoners – a guide for teachers and education professionals’
- A pack of leaflets available for photocopying entitled ‘My Mum’s/Dad's in Prison’ with information about visiting prison, telling the children, being a parent or carer and specific material for younger and older children
- Visiting My Dad/Visiting My Mum
- You and Your Child parenting programme.
Ormiston have also produced research in the field:
- ‘Time for Families: positive outcomes for children & families of offenders using Ormiston services in prisons and the community’
- ‘Sentenced families’
- ‘Dads and kids: the inside story’
- ‘The Eastern Region Families Partnership 2002–2005: an evaluation'.
Ormiston are also part of the consortium that operates the national Prisoners' Families Helpline (see APF).
POPS provide a variety of services to support anyone who has a link with someone in prison, prisoners and other agencies. POPS aims to provide support to enable families to cope with the stress of arrest, imprisonment and release.
POPS currently run the following services:
- Family Link Workers: POPS have 10 Family Link workers based within prison establishments across the northwest. Their role is to be a guide through the 'maze' of the criminal justice system and act as a broker between families and offenders, to ensure that families are able to support the offender effectively.
- Visitor centres: POPS run several visitor centres, all of which are based outside the main prison and offer a welcoming environment for children and families.
- Black prisoner support project: This was set up to raise awareness about institutional racism in prisons. Research into the treatment and experiences of black prisoners has been an integral part of this on-going process.
- POPS are also part of the consortium that run the national Prisoners’ Families Helpline (see APF).
For more information on these projects and for copies of publications, contact POPS on the details below.
The Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) is an independent charity that supports people affected by imprisonment. PACT work with children and families of prisoners, and with prisoners inside and on release. They provide family support workers and volunteers at several visitors’ centres. Situated outside the prison gates, they can offer information and support to family members.
Suite C5 City Cloisters 196 Old Street London EC1V 9FR
Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service is an independent voluntary agency which has been helping prisoners’ families for 40 years. The main aims of the service are to provide the families and friends of anyone sentenced to imprisonment or remanded in custody with:
- advice and information
- support and assistance at court
- support and friendship.
PFF have produced several useful resources including pamphlets on:
- ‘Court to custody’
- ‘Information for those with a family member or friend in prison’.
Additionally, in partnership with Islington Primary Care Trust and Age Concern, PFF have produced
- ‘A guide for grandparents bringing up the children of prisoners’
- ‘A guide for young people living with their grandparents while their parents are in prison’.
Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service 20 Trinity Street London SE1 1DB
Telephone: 0808 808 3444 (freephone helpline for prisoners’ families) 020 7403 4091/9359 (admin.) Fax: 020 7403 9359 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.prisonersfamiliesandfriends.org.uk
Social Exclusion Task Force families review ‘Reaching out: think family’
This report, published in 2007, seeks to extend the benefits of the Every Child Matters approach to the whole family so that adults' and children's services work together to tackle the root causes of children's disadvantage that often lie in the difficulties of their parents. The report is about early intervention – breaking the cycle that is passed down the generations, by tackling the drivers in the wider family environment that contribute to poor outcomes for the children and for child poverty. It is also about never giving up on families and looking for every opportunity to support them. It specifically mentions the children of prisoners, stating that parental imprisonment disrupts contact between parent and child and is strongly associated with poor outcomes.
Award-winning Storybook Dads is an independent, registered charity. It is based at Dartmoor Prison and has been steadily expanding across the prison estate. They use digital technology to enable mothers and fathers to record stories for their children to listen to at home, with the aim of maintaining family ties and facilitating learning for prisoners and their children through the provision of story CDs.
Storybook Dads HMP Dartmoor Princetown Yelverton Devon PL20 6RR
String of Pearls is a small charity based in the South West. They were able to secure funding from the local probation service to run a series of multi-agency one-day training sessions to teach professionals – doctors, teachers, probation officers, social workers – about the needs of prisoners’ families in the community.
The aim of the training is to train professionals in offering tailored support to the children and families of prisoners that they encounter. The trainers use creative arts to bring the subject to life, including:
- audio and DVD drama
- role plays
- an exhibition of artwork by prisoners’ children and families
- a CD of music composed by prisoners’ families
- audio recordings of prisoners’ family members describing difficult situations.
These materials were created during workshops with prisoners’ families and are available from String of Pearls through email@example.com .
Sure Start children’s centres
A government programme to deliver the best start in life for every child by bringing together early education, child care, health and family support. It covers a wide range of programmes both universal and those targeted on particular local areas or disadvantaged groups within England.
Relevant guidance can found in Chapter 19 which sets out the responsibilities for staff in Sure Start and children’s centres in relation to the children of prisoners and the importance of supporting families to maintain family ties.
The Thames Valley Partnership brings people and organisations together to create safe and stronger communities through identifying sustainable solutions to the problems of crime and social exclusion. Their innovative Family Matters programme works towards improving and integrating support to the children and families of prisoners and offenders.
To facilitate this process, TVP have delivered training in prisons and communities across the region. This has crossed the boundaries of traditional service provision. It has raised the profile and awareness of the difficulties faced by families, and led to the setting up of several Family Matters Community Networks (see Banbury practice site). These pilot networks are locality based and multi-disciplinary. They are child-focused and enable sharing of information and case planning about particular families affected by imprisonment.
TVP have also developed leaflets:
- ‘Invisible children’ is a guide for teachers working with the children of prisoners
- ‘Custody – what now?’ is for children of prisoners, and available at court.
Additionally, behaviour support staff and educational psychologists in Banbury have developed a series of resources for teachers and teaching assistants to use when supporting children of prisoners. It is hoped they will become available nationally.
TVP have also pulled together much of the training material and resources, identified in this section, into one pack. This is available from TVP for £40+p&p.
This project is sponsored by the National Offender Management Service and aims to provide evidence of the longer-term impact and benefit of supporting offenders’ to maintain and strengthen their relationships with their children and families. It aims to bring together partner organisations from both prisons and communities to facilitate joint working and better outcomes for families.
The project is being piloted in localities across the West Midlands, and will undertake research and evaluation on:
- providing information and support within both prisons and communities
- reaching BME communities
- training, engagement and communications.
West Midlands Children and Families of Offenders Project All Saints House 280 Lodge Road Winson Green Birmingham B18 5SU Telephone: 0121 345 2873 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.familiesdomatter.co.uk