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Insight

Focus on Barnardo's work

Spotlight on children affected by parental imprisonment

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Barnardo’s uses its donated funds to the best possible effect - transforming the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children. Children affected by parental imprisonment (CAPI) are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, and have been identified as a priority for our work over the coming years.

What is the issue?

All the evidence suggests that the children of prisoners require extensive support. In comparison to their peers, they are twice as likely to experience mental health problems, and three times as likely to have had a history of poor living conditions and a poor employment record.

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Despite this, the number of children and young people in the UK with a parent in prison is not officially recorded. The Ministry of Justice estimates the figure to be around 200,000. There is no discrete policy or legislation to support these children within mainstream services, and they are not recognised as a distinct group by Local Safeguarding Children Boards.  

How do Barnardo’s support CAPI at present?

Barnardo’s support children of prisoners through both dedicated and early years services across the UK. We have local teams in England and Wales who provide community-based support to families of offenders. We also operate prison-based help across the nations. Our innovative online resource hub, called ‘I-HOP’, provides vital materials for professionals working with children who have a parent, or parents, in prison.  

What is Barnardo’s vision for CAPI?

Barnardo’s vision is that children caught up in the trauma of parental imprisonment are recognised, heard, and have an equal and fair chance to achieve positive outcomes in their lives.

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How will Barnardo’s achieve this vision?

We will try to improve the identification of children affected by parental imprisonment, and call for a coherent and integrated Government response to ensure their needs are met. Our policy work includes influencing the Westminster Government and the Scottish Executive to ensure courts are required to establish the parental status of those who are remanded or sentenced to prison. By this means, we will know how many children are affected by this issue, and we will be able to ensure they are provided with the support they so desperately need. We are also lobbying both local and national agencies to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities and needs of these young people.

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