Supporting the children and families of offenders

An excellent new resource from i-HOP aimed at all practitioners working with children to help them cope with the arrest and/or imprisonment of a family member.

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A practitioner’s guide

Last week I blogged on a new report raising awareness of the impact of parental imprisonment on children’s mental health. Today I’m featuring an excellent new practitioner’s guide from i-HOP:

Supporting children and families affected by a family member’s offending

The guide is written for all practitioners with direct contact with children and families and aims to enable them to support

children affected by a family member’s offending within a whole family approach.

Who are i-HOP?

The i-HOP service, set up in 2013, is funded by the Department for Education to provide support and information to all professionals working with offenders’ children and their families.

The guide combines information, tools and resources to address key issues experienced by families of offenders. It highlights pratice and thinking points, gives useful practice examples and tools as well as a comprehensive appendix of resources.


The guide contains four main sections whose contents are summarised below:

  • Building the practice foundations
    • Ensuring a children’s rights approach
    • Understanding the criminal justice system
    • Developing a multi-agency response
    • Safeguarding children and families
  • Understanding the impact of offending on the whole family
    • Impact on parents and carers
    • Impact on children and young people
  • Supporting parents and carers
    • Assessing needs, planning support and signposting
    • Telling the children
  • Supporting children and young people
    • Assessing needs and planning support
    • Exploring feelings
    • Providing information
    • Facilitating contact with someone in prison
    • Coping with changes to family/home environment
    • Managing behaviour


This guide is particularly useful because each section is backed up with a wide range of detailed resources. Considerable thought has been given to separating out these resources into four key groups:

  1. Resources for parents and carers
  2. Resources to use in direct work with children and young people
  3. Resources for practitioners
  4. Tools for working with children to explore feelings, maintain contact and secure memories

In my opinion, this guide serves to main functions, both of them extremely well:

  1. An excellent primer for students and newly qualified practitioners who need to think through the key issues of a family member’s offending or imprisonment from a child’s point of view
  2. A high-quality resource pack for experienced practitioners to dip into with practical tools to help children express their feelings and cope with, often, extremely powerful feelings of loss, anger and betrayal.

You can find out more about the guide here.

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With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

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