How we manage offenders
Children and families
Children and families can play a significant role in supporting an offender to make and sustain changes which reduce re-offending.
However, many offenders’ relationships are broken or fragmented as a result of their offending, leaving their families unsupported, and increasing the likelihood of inter-generational offending, mental health and financial problems.
How we aim to support offenders' family relationships:
- ensure life skills, including parenting and relationship skills, are provided for offenders through mainstream support
- engage with the voluntary and community sector and faith communities in supporting children and families
- develop better advice and guidance for offenders' children and families
- ensure the needs of offenders' children and families are considered within the implementation of Every Child Matters (new window), the Government's strategy to improve life chances for all children
- recognise that the most prolific offenders are often those with the most challenging lifestyles who require additional help to maintain their family ties.
Every Child Matters and NOMS
The Green Paper, Every Child Matters was published in September 2003 and led to the Children Act 2004. The Act provides the legal framework for a programme of reform in children’s services both to safeguard children and to promote their welfare.
This links directly with the work on supporting children and families of offenders under the Reducing Re-offending National Delivery Plan.
The Act identifies five outcomes for children which have been identified as the components of well-being:
being healthy (physical/mental health and emotional well-being)
staying safe (protection from harm and neglect)
enjoying and achieving (education, training and recreation)
making a positive contribution (the contribution made by children/young people to society)
achieving economic well-being (social and economic well-being).
There are many examples of good practice and progress in each of these categories in both prison and probation, and within Sure Start and Children’s Centres which are aiming to engage offenders in their children’s learning and development.
The voluntary and community sector (VCS) are running many innovative projects, for example, Time For Families in the Eastern Region is a seven year collaboration to improve family ties between offenders and their children.
Organisations like PACT and Action for Prisoners’ Families are providing support for prisoners’ families. ADFAM is working with the Prison Service to improve support for families of drug misusing offenders.
A range of VCS initiatives to support family learning have also been funded by DfES including Family Man/Fathers Inside.
The Parenting Fund has supported three projects with a target group including offenders which aim to improve the experiences of young parents, particularly fathers, supporting them in improving life skills, and developing an understanding of parenting roles and responsibilities.
NOMS is considering what further support to give to embedding some of these programmes.
Strategic regional approach to supporting families
NOMS is funding a West Midlands regional pathfinder through £2m grant over three years, from the Invest To Save initiative. It aims to strengthen family ties, support children and families and reduce re-offending. The results of this pathfinder will inform the delivery of similar targeted interventions within the regions. It is led by the Regional Offender Manager, working with key partners, including mainstream agencies and key national and local voluntary organisations.
The partnership is aiming to reduce re-offending by three per cent over three years, through the development of prison and community based interventions and information, including:
increased opportunities for families to support rehabilitation
developing local community family support and advice service
providing practical support for children and families in maintaining contact and increasing the percentage of children and families visiting prisoners
other measures to reduce family breakdown, such as family learning and parenting skills
raising awareness by mainstream services of the needs of this group, through training and improved information flows.