Working with prisoners' families

Every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, should have the support they need to:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic well-being

Children of prisoners often have unmet needs in all these areas (Ormiston report 2007).

This page aims to be a resource for Sure Start and other front-line workers. It's here to help them work with children and partners of people in custody, by providing a basic theoretical and practical framework (it is not a guide to therapeutic or legal interventions). The second aim is to offer support to practitioners to work in an arena which is part of our society but rarely spoken of and can appear overwhelming.

The purpose of this page is to better equip staff to work with prisoners' families. Some of this material is specific to the criminal justice system, whilst other parts address common themes experienced by prisoners' families. Information and order forms for leading charities in this area are also included.

While there are many common themes and experiences, each family is different and will face the situation in its own way. This page aims to provide a range of resources for workers to begin to find a way through these events. Its focus is on the whole family and aims to increase knowledge, and promote the confidence of staff. The reflective base is helpful in supporting staff to look at their own ways of working.

A guide to supporting family members

1 Stage 1 – arrest SHOW

2 Stage 2 – charge SHOW

3 Stage 3 – court SHOW

4 Stage 4 – starting the sentence SHOW

5 Stage 5 – first visit SHOW

6 Stage 6 – serving the sentence SHOW

7 Stage 7 – release SHOW

Further help

Background and theory SHOW

The sentence and types of prison SHOW

The cycle of change SHOW

Documents and further links SHOW