The focus of this research report commissioned by the Childhood Development Initiative is on the family reintegration phase of the prison journey, and the challenges for all the family when imprisonment comes to an end, with a particular focus on children’s needs.

The study has two main methodological components: a literature review and interviews with stakeholders, prisoners and prisoners’ partners. The literature review recounts the detrimental effects of imprisonment on prisoners’ children. They are more likely to experience negative educational, behavioural and emotional outcomes and are at increased risk of future incarceration.

The interviews with stakeholders, prisoners and partners highlighted many positive aspects of the current system and services. There was widespread acknowledgement, however, of system shortcomings and service gaps, including a lack of information about prisoners’ families on the part of State agencies.

One of two possible models is recommended: either an extended role for an existing independent “through-the-gate” service such as the Irish Association for Social Inclusion Opportunities (IASIO) or a new community-based service operating along lines similar to Bedford Row in Limerick. The service would support families at any point during the period of imprisonment but especially leading up to release and for a time after release.

The report also includes a draft protocol between the Irish Prison Service and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Read the report on the Childhood Development Initiative website here.