Children of prisoners - maintaining family ties
Findings - strategy
- The vast majority of the responses indicated that the local safeguarding children board (LSCB) did not have a role in identifying and supporting children. The focus groups confirmed there is no one organisation with statutory responsibility for this group of children. Consequently, service provision rests within the voluntary sector. However, Every Child Matters and the NOMS children and families pathway should provide the framework to enable a more strategic response.
- Children of prisoners are not recognised as a distinct group by LSCBs, and they are not a distinct group in children’s plans. Unless the child is already known to children’s services, or presents as a child in need of assessment, they would come very low down the list of priorities. This is a particular concern for those who are not in full time education due to exclusion as they are even more likely to fall through the net of support.
- There is no way of recording numbers of children affected, let alone identifying, and tracking children. Thus this is an unknown group in terms of resource implications for services.
- Evaluation of existing services, a solid evidence base, mapping of services and on-going research is needed into the impact of parental imprisonment on children.
- Strategy should also be based upon the views of children and families. In Northern Ireland, Ormiston and POPS there are opportunities for feedback about services, with a view to future development.
- Current strategy focuses on the needs of offenders and not the families who can be the unseen victims of crime.