Children Heard & Seen and Kids Matter come alongside families impacted by parental imprisonment

To make a real and lasting difference in the lives of children with a parent in prison, it’s essential that we work together. When we pool our knowledge and resources the impact can be so much greater.  

Currently, there is no statutory framework to identify and support children with a parent in prison. Coupled with the impact of poverty, many of these children are more at risk of mental health problems and are likely to be caught in a cycle of reoffence.

To fill this gap, we have partnered with Children Heard & Seen (CHAS), a charity that provides support and interventions for children with a parent in prison, to run our programmes. This enables us to come alongside not only parents in prison but families impacted by imprisonment, increasing the chance of children living full, happy lives.

Leanne Manning, Chief Operating Officer at CHAS spoke to us about the importance if partnership:

According to recent statistics:

  • 65% of boys with a parent in prison go on to offend in the future
  • 25% of children are likely to experience mental health difficulties
  • They are more vulnerable to emotional problems arising from shame, stigma and social isolation
  • They are more likely to suffer from bullying, truancy and poor educational outcomes.

Along with the team at CHAS, we want to see change. We want children to thrive in spite of their circumstances. Our goal, therefore, is to run termly programmes, online (meaning that groups are accessible to more families), whilst we continue to grow our reach in prisons in an effort to wrap around families.

Parent and facilitator feedback continuously informs our programme design. We measure change in parental confidence and parental wellbeing using standardised measures before and after the programme and three months later. Yet whilst data is a critical component of rigorous evaluation, it is what our families, partners and facilitators tell us that really demonstrates the life changing impact our programme is having.

Parents who’ve completed our online programme have said:

We aim to have parcels that include our booklets as well as a little treat delivered to parents before the start of the first session, as a way of replicating the hospitality of the in-person groups. Facilitators and group helpers will also encourage an informal, chatty atmosphere so parents feel comfortable sharing. Of course, meeting online is not quite the same as the relationality encouraged by in-person meet-ups. For this reason, we prioritise efforts to get parents together after a programme. One mum who attended an in-person group said:

Children with a parent in prison are often the least supported, and often have to deal with the associated stigma, shame and in many cases, a complete lack of understanding from those in their communities. Equipping their carers with the confidence and competence to build strong relationships with their children could change the trajectory of a child’s life.

To find out more about our work in prisons, email

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