In October 2009 Barnados UK launched the publication report ‘Every Night You Cry: The Realities of Having a Parent in Prison.’ The report focuses on children who have a parent in prison who are more likely than other children to experience poverty, mental health problems and poor housing. These children are less likely to receive any help or assistance.
According to Lynda Wilson (the director of Barnado’s Northern Ireland), out of 209 local authorities and health boards across the UK, only 20% make reference to this particular group in their children’s plan.
The reports primary objective is to outline the reality of parental imprisonment for children. The methodology used by Barnados was interviews with 15 women whose children have a father in prison. Eleven of their children also agreed to speak to Barnados. There is an estimated 160, 000 children who have a parent in prison in the UK. The report argues that policy responses to children and families of prisoners in each of the UK nations are largely based on the fact that re-offending rates fall if the prisoner has contact with their families. The report also claims that the emphasis is put on how children help their imprisoned parents and not on how the children themselves are coping. According to the report children of prisoners are more at risk than the peers to commit anti-social behaviour.
Barnados key recommendations are; to systematically collect data on the children of prisoners to ensure they are identified and their problems are intervened at an early stage; measures implemented for courts to provide information on the impact of the child of a defendant of any sentence that they make; guidance put in place to ensure these children’s needs are put in children’s plans; developing a memorandum of understanding between all agencies and organisations involved in the lives of children and families of prisoners establishing roles and responsibilities for partnership workings.
Read the report here: