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Abstract from

Responding to Children When Their Parents are Incarcerated: Exploring the Responses in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia

Catherine Flynn is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Monash University.

Tess Bartlett is a Masters graduate of Victoria University, Wellington, currently working as a researcher on an ARC project examining care planning for children whose primary carer is imprisoned.

Paula Fernandez Arias is currently an international PhD candidate at Monash University looking at the resettlement experiences of African humanitarian entrants in Melbourne, Australia.

Phillipa Evans is currently completing her PhD, examining effective methods of confrontation utilised when working with adolescent offenders.

Alannah Burgess is currently completing her PhD at Monash University, examining the care needs of children who have an imprisoned mother with a mental illness.

There is considerable research conducted over the past 50 years which describes the impact on children of parental incarceration. Research has also focused on describing the care arrangements of such children. Yet there has been no specific examination of the trajectory of care for these children, the processes surrounding this care, or its resultant quality.

This article reports the findings of an ARC funded study examining care planning processes in Victoria and New South Wales for these children. We concentrate in this paper on a subset of data from 124 professional stakeholders, who commented on their experiences of responding to children, in the context of their organisational remit, processes and expectations. Findings indicate that children of prisoners are largely invisible in adult organisations and that there are typically poor or poorly understood interagency protocols to respond to these children. Respondents report relying on informal information, networks and resources and working outside of their role to meet the needs of children. Clear suggestions are made for improvements, including developing child-sensitive services; a child-focused approach and clearer protocols and guidelines for working with others.

(2015) Vol 32 Law in Context p4

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