A special day set aside for children of prisoners to spend time with their parents
A Child and Parent Activity Days are specifically for incarcerated parents and their children. In other cases, grandchildren or nephews or nieces (for example, if they had a particularly close relationship prior to incarceration) may attend with their relative in custody if approved by the Correctional Centre General Manager. No one other family members attend the Child and Parent Days unless ordered to attend by an involved government agency and approved by the GM. The aim of the Child and Parent Day attempts to provide a more “normal” environment for a child and parent to interact within. This is achieved by providing activities that children and their parents can do together. These may include, but not be limited to, creating art and craft, playing a ball game and interactive age-appropriate board games.
The Child and Parent Activity Day is held over a period of 4 hours and focuses on lifting barriers that hinder the visiting process from a child’s perspective. For example, the incarcerated parent and their children are free to move around in the allocated area rather than remaining seated (which is required in some Correctional Centres). Child and Parent Activity Days are positive experiences for parents in custody who are attempting to keep the contact with their child and also re-establish contact with a child who may not have had a lot of contact with the parent due to being incarcerated and may not be able to attend regularly.
The day starts with SHINE for Kids Staff collecting the children from parents or carers and taking them to the allocated location to meet up with the inmate. Once they meet up they then can do the activities provided by SHINE for Kids. Morning tea and lunch is provided for both the inmate and the children so they can have a meal together with their parent. Giving the imprisoned parent an opportunity to make their child’s lunch can be empowering for them in so far as to provide them with an everyday task that they have been unable to undertake while in prison. After lunch, the day quietly winds down gradually (depending on what time lunch was held) with everyone helping to clean up and pack away the activity equipment. At the end of the Child and Parent Activity Day, the children say their goodbye and are escorted to the Gate, reception, exit point where they are met by their careers.
Correctional Centres hold Child and Parent Activity Days in school holidays. Most Correctional Centres hold Child and Parent Activity Days over the last two weeks of the school term in December or at the end of January.
Who can participate?
A criminal history check is conducted on each inmate applying. Inmates who have a history of child sex offences will not be allowed to participate in this program. Inmates who have a history of violent offences against a child will only be given approval at the discretion of the General Manager.
A case management meeting is conducted to recommend to the General Manager who should participate in the day. The case management meeting will take into account the following:
- The relationship between the inmate and the child/children
- Whether the Carer has returned the carer permission form
- Whether the child/children want to attend
- The behaviour of the inmate
- Whether the inmate is working outside of the Correctional Centre or studying externally – and whether he is able to miss work or study
- How often the child or children have visited the inmate
SHINE for Kids supplies transport to and from these days within available resources.
Process for the Child and Parent Activity Days
- 8-10 weeks prior – Promotion material will be distributed throughout the wings and visiting areas. Prisoner’s applications open.
- 6-8 weeks prior – A meeting is held with a Correctional Officer (usually a SAPO) where the applications are discussed and temporary approval is given to those inmates who have applied.
- 4-5 weeks prior – Carers and parents will be contacted about the upcoming day and the process is explained to them. The carer forms are then sent out to carers and parents by SHINE for Kids to seek approval for the children to attend.
- 3 weeks prior – SHINE for Kids chase up carer forms that haven’t been received
- 2 weeks prior – Meeting is held with the Correctional Officer to determine whether the inmate is given the approval to attend, the paperwork is then sent to the GM for final approval.
- 10 days prior – All paperwork is received back from the GM with the final approvals.
- 5 days prior – SHINE for Kids worker will contact each carer and parent confirming approval and confirm that the child or children will attend. Any final information about the child or children is given at this time.