Our recent report ‘Children on the Edge: Children affected by maternal imprisonment‘ makes eleven recommendations that identify areas of development needed in the impact that maternal imprisonment has on children. We will be including a few of these in this and future ebulletins.
4. All children, families/caregivers who are affected by maternal imprisonment should be provided with timely information as well as practical and emotional support:
- Ideally this information and support should be provided prior to the mothers imprisonment if there is an indication that a custodial sentence is likely, otherwise it should be provided within the first week of maternal imprisonment and should include one to one ongoing support for children/young people and families following an assessment of their strengths and needs, to ensure the child/young person is provided with a safe, secure and nurturing environment.
- Children/young people should have honest and sensitive information about the circumstances of their imprisoned parent, which is age-appropriate and understanding of the nature of the offence. Children/young people should be guided in how best to share information about the imprisoned parent with friends, family and others.
- Information and advice on benefits, housing, debt etc. as well as information on financial support for prison visiting.
- Information on other agencies which can help and how to access them and help with childcare if required.
The involvement of the imprisoned parent in the planning and support of their child should be encouraged where this is in the interest of the child. This will not only promote the parent child bond but is a key factor in supporting resilience in children. Further, there needs to be recognition that children/young people themselves should be at the heart of the work and be consulted and involved. They should be actively engaged in the assessment and planning processes to ensure their voices are heard, their needs are met and their ability to cope is enhanced.
Recommendation 4: Development and resourcing of a family support strategy to meet the needs of children affected by maternal imprisonment delivered by a UK network of women’s centres and children’s NGOs.