• Range of resources to help teachers discuss the issue in class and remove the stigma associated with parental imprisonment.
  • Near record levels of children have a parent behind bars – it’s estimated that around 1 in 15 (7%) children experience the imprisonment of a parent during their time at school.  
  • Children in Wales with a parent in prison will have access to more support from today with the launch of a new, dedicated resource pack for Welsh schools and educational settings.   
     

The new toolkit, created by Pact (the Prison Advice and Care Trust) with the support of two schools in Wales, is available to all Welsh schools and educational settings. It provides advice and support for teachers who have children in their classes with a parent in prison. It seeks to foster understanding about the issue in schools and to ensure that young people affected by imprisonment know that there is help available for them.  

With the prison population across England & Wales near a record high, so too is the number of children being affected by the imprisonment of a parent. It’s estimated that more than 5,000 children in Wales have a father or mother behind bars right now and research estimates that around 1 in 15 children (7%) will experience a parent’s imprisonment at some point during their time at school.  

The problem for children can be particularly acute when mothers are sent to prison, as they are typically the primary carers – 95% of children have to leave their home when their mother goes to prison. There are no women’s prisons in Wales, so women are generally sent to HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire and HMP Styal in Cheshire.  

Many children with a parent in prison go on to lead positive and fulfilling lives. However, a range of research shows that they are more likely to suffer from problems later in life including mental health problems, homelessness and poverty.

The new toolkit provides teachers with a range of resources to support children affected by imprisonment. It seeks to give teachers the confidence to create a space for the whole class to discuss the issue and allows fellow students to empathise with children who are affected and find ways to support them.  

Aimee Hutchinson, Children and Young People Lead at Pact said:

The imprisonment of a father or mother can have a devastating impact on children and young people. With the right support, children with a parent in prison will go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. However, it’s a sad fact that they face more challenges than many other children and that there remains a real stigma around having a family member in prison. 

We hope this new guidance will support teachers to have an open and constructive discussion about these issues that affect many thousands of children and young people every year.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said:

Children and young people whose parents are imprisoned face a range of challenges, some might feel embarrassed about their parents being imprisoned and might not want to discuss these feelings with others. The toolkit will help school staff and other learners understand how these children and young people feel. 

This understanding will help school staff support children and young people, help them overcome negative feelings and understand that they can get support from others. I would like to thank Pact and the staff from Ysgol Bryn Alyn and Gwersyllt Community Primary School for working with us to create this valuable resource.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Rocio Cifuentes said:

All children have a right to reach their full potential, but children with a parent or guardian in prison can face a range of significant challenges. I welcome this new resource for schools, which can help to start conversations with children and help to break down the stigma associated with familial imprisonment.

Jacquie O’Toole, Assistant Head at Gwersyllt CP Primary School helped with the creation of the toolkit, she said

Staff need to realise how prevalent the impact and the issue of imprisonment is and how many families it affects. It can affect pupils’ attendance, their behaviour, their emotions and their concentration in school, as well as how they interact with the other children. Providing teachers with more information and guidance about how to deal with this can help everyone affected by imprisonment.

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Notes to editors