Irish Penal Reform Trust

Children of Prisoners

Children and families coping with imprisonment are often described as the ‘hidden’ victims of the penal system because they must endure their own sentence, despite not having perpetrated any crime. There are a variety of ways in which children and families can be affected by imprisonment including: disruption to child care arrangements, relationship breakdowns, financial loss and stigmatisation.

IPRT works towards the recognition and support of the rights and needs of children and families affected by imprisonment through research, advocacy, and awareness-raising activities. This includes an exciting three-year project (commenced in mid-2020) on families of prisoners, aiming to reduce harm for children and families affected by imprisonment, with a particular focus on reducing female imprisonment. We’re very grateful to our funders, Katharine Howard Foundation and St Stephen’s Green Trust, for supporting such a timely piece of work. You can read more about the network of organisations working in the area set up under the project on actionforfamilies.ie.

Please note this section contains information about advocacy and developments, both national and international. Practical information for prisoners and their families is available here.

Round-up: Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) Annual Conference 2024

17th June 2024

From Wednesday 12 June 2024 until Friday 14 June 2024, Irish Penal Reform Trust Children and Families Project Coordinator Ashling Tobin travelled to Berlin, Germany to attend the Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) annual international conference. The conference was titled ‘Let’s Talk to One Another: a cross-sectoral approach for children with a parent in prison‘.

IPRT's response to the Child Poverty Monitor and Cost of Living Report 2024

31st May 2024

Following the publications of the Children’s Rights Alliance’s Child Poverty Monitor 2024 and Barnardos’ Cost of Living Report 2024, we are now aware that 236,910 children in Ireland experience enforced deprivation, with 47 per cent of parents cutting back on essentials. IPRT reiterates its concerns for the children with a family member in prison and how this cohort is at risk of poverty or already impacted by poverty.

Family Focussed Criminal Justice - Invisible Walls (Wales)

18th April 2024

Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) was delighted to be able to support hosting Corin Morgan-Armstrong to speak about his work at Invisible Walls (Wales) at an event titled 'Family Friendly Criminal Justice: Models and Opportunities for Child Centred Practice'.

UK: ‘Together a Chance’ - Evaluation of the Social Worker for Mothers in Prison pilot project

31st January 2024

Together a Chance’ by CASCADE is an evaluation of a three-year pilot scheme that placed social workers in two women’s prisons in England. The pilot project intended to support and advocate for women whose children are involved with children’s social care in the originating local authority.

Journal.ie: ‘A long way from normal’: Families say visits to prison still restricted post-pandemic

29th November 2023

The Journal's Noteworthy initiative reports on their investigation of prison visits. 

Children of people in prison recognised in new Young Ireland National Policy Framework

21st November 2023

The launch of the Young Ireland National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2023-2028 includes children impacted by parental imprisonment.  

The Irish Times: ‘Mine were only babies when I went in’: How kids’ camp at prison helps parents stay connected to their children

3rd November 2023

IPRT comments on the difficulties for children of imprisoned parents in maintaining a relationship with their parents as she attended the kids camp event at Shelton Abbey open prison.

Response to cancelled prison visits in Castlerea Prison

4th July 2023

IPRT’s Children and Families Initiative is concerned about the cancellation of Saturday visits in Castlerea Prison on 4 July 2023 due to staff shortages and the impact this has in relation to children and family members.

IPRT become members of Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) Network

9th June 2023

IPRT become full members of the Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) Network at their General Assembly.

ECHR: Child's right to regular contact with a parent in detention safeguarded

21st March 2023

A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (21 March) that safeguards a child's right to regular contact with a parent in detention, specifically in this case pre-trial detention, has marked a major development in European case law.

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