For 2023, Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) Children and Families Project aims were:

  1. Increase National Recognition of the Rights of Children with a Family Member in Prison
  2. Establish a National Support Service for Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison
  3. Improve Prison Visiting Procedures and Conditions for Children and Families
  4. Enshrine in Law and Practice the Principle of “Prison as a Last Resort” for Primary Caregivers
  5. Improve Data Recording on Children Affected by Imprisonment
  6. Challenge Stigmatisation of Children and Families with a Family Member in Prison
  7. Promote and Facilitate Family Involvement during the Period of Imprisonment

IPRT did considerable work towards achieving these seven objectives. Below is an overview of that work.

  • Action for Children and Families of Prisoners Network (‘The Network’) 
    • The Network facilitated strategic engagement and strengthened relationships between the stakeholders (Network members) resulting in positive steps towards the identification of gaps and the support of key actions for change for children and families affected by imprisonment. For example, the Traveller Justice Initiative and Barnardos have been working collaboratively on the recruitment of a project worker to provide a new service (through Barnardos) to support Traveller women in prison. 
    • The Network grew to 42 members across 32 organisations. 
    • There were four meetings of the Network in 2023. 
    • Engaged the voice of lived experience through membership of the Network.
    • Supported the setting up of a book project with children with parents in prison with Kids’ Own Publishing. 
    • IPRT’s Annual Prisoner Member Survey included a new question on “Contact with the outside world”. This question was included due to the number of concerns brought to the Network in relation to access to in-person visits.
  • Networking with the relevant organisations and individuals 
    • Hub Na nÓg. 
    • Met with the Head of Participation and Rights Education and a Policy Adviser in the Office of the Ombudsman for Children (OCO). 
    • Met with Ireland’s newly appointed Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC. 
    • Met with Philip Jaffé, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 
    • Joined the ‘Reach Out’ Steering Group / Committee. The ‘Reach Out’ project is run by Fusion CPL. A summary of the pilot is available here.
    • Met with Desmond O’Shea, Governor of Wheatfield and Sarah Hume, Irish Prison Service Principal Psychologist Manager. 
    • Conducted three meetings with the Irish Prison Service. 
  • Attendance at event and launches: 
    • Attended the Children of Prisoners Europe Conference in Limerick and became a full member of their Network (COPE) 
    • Visit to Limerick Female Prison and Oberstowns Detention Centre 
    • The National Traveller Women’s Forum event for International Women’s Day. 
    • Dr Lucy Baldwin’s talk on motherhood and imprisonment in the Dóchas Centre, Mountjoy Femalte Prison. 
    • The launch of the Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card.   
    • The in-person conference on Know Your Rights: Remedies & how to use them to support children.  
    • The launch of the ‘Falling behind’- OCO Annual Report 2022.  
    • The launch of Children’s Rights Alliance End Child Poverty Week in advance of Budget 2024.  
    • Kids Camp event at Shelton Abbey Open Centre organised by the Irish Prison Service and the Katherine Howard Foundation 
    • Young Adults in the Justice System, Knowledge Exchange’ event with Ulster University. 
    • Child Summit in Croke Park launching the ‘Young Ireland National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. 
    • Travelled to Geneva for Ireland’s review under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to specifically advocate for the recognition and prioritisation of children affected by imprisonment. 
    • Presented on children and families of prisoners at the International Criminology Conference. 

 We look forward to another year of work for the children and families of people in prison.