21 November 2023 marked a momentous occasion for the IPRT Children and Families Initiative with the launch of the Young Ireland National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2023-2028, a framework that includes children impacted by parental imprisonment.  

The report includes specific actions for the Department of Justice, the Irish Prison Service, and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) to improve the lives of this marginalised cohort, something IPRT has been long calling for.  

The report included the recognition by Government that:  

some children and young people face challenges and discrimination that may isolate them from their peers and communities, and impact greatly on their lives. One such issue is parental imprisonment. The impact of a parent’s imprisonment should be mitigated as much as possible, and children and young people with an imprisoned parent should experience the best possible outcomes. Significant progress has been made to ensure children remain in contact with imprisoned parents to the greatest possible extent in an appropriate, safe, child-friendly way. The Irish Prison Service supports prisoners to fulfil their parenting role to the greatest possible extent, and it is important to build on recent success in this area over the lifetime of the framework.” 

Actions 52 is particularly relevant to IPRT’s work on children and families of people in prison, providing specific actions for Government bodies to implement.  

This is hugely welcomed by the Children and Families Initiative Project, which is a project broadly based on the recommendations and vision for change set out in IPRT’s 2021 report which updated an earlier report Picking up the Pieces: The Rights and Needs of Children and Families Affected by Imprisonment. Specifically, Piecing it Together sets out seven broad recommendations to address the harms of imprisonment for people in prison and their families/children, sub-divided into 29 specific actions as identified by the various stakeholders. The Young Ireland Framework focused on a number of the recommendations outlined in IPRT’s 2021 report: 

  • Increase National Recognition of the Rights of Children with a Family Member in Prison: and the identification of these children as a potentially at-risk group in need of targeted supports.  
  • Improve Prison Visiting Procedures and Conditions for Children and Families. 
  • Improve Data Recording on Children Affected by Imprisonment 
  • Promote and Facilitate Family Involvement during the Period of Imprisonment. 

Over the years IPRT has called for the implementation of these recommendation and since the recruitment of the Children and Families Initiative Project coordinator, it has enabled IPRT to place a focus on advocating and campaigning for their implementation through various meetings with specific and targeted stakeholders, media publications and interviews,  attendance at conference’s, quarterly engagement with the Action for Children and Families of Prisoners Network and submissions to government on issues relating to children and families of prisoners. One such submission made by IPRT on 28 February 2022 included children of prisoners in the policy framework. This was followed by IPRT’s attendance at the next meeting which was a discussion on the Blueprint of the Policy Framework for Children and Young People, an information session with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to follow up on this submission.  

We are delighted to see that we were successful is gaining recognition for children impacted by parental imprisonment and know both the benefits and importance of having improved data collection, the development of child-friendly visits and policies centred on the voice of lived experience will have for this marginalised cohort group.   

Read the Young Ireland: National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2023-2028.