Helping children with no other way of visiting their imprisoned parent

SHINE for Kids realises that visits are important for both children and their parent who is in prison. Visits help to continue positive parent-child relationships. For young children in particular visits can be emotionally nurturing, reducing anxiety and fear. Where the child has felt the trauma of witnessing mum or dad being arrested, immediate visits are extremely helpful and reassuring. Benefits to the child include improved emotional, psychological and physical health as well as the maintaining the child/parent bond and family connectedness.

Our workers are skilled at negotiating the prison system and the visits to ensure our clients have an enjoyable and positive encounter with their parent.

What does the Children’s Supported Transport Service involve?

The service involves transporting children to:

Who is eligible to use the service?

A child or young person is eligible to use this Service if:

  • they are under 18 years of age;
  • they have one or both parent(s) or primary carer(s) who are affected by the criminal justice system;
  • the imprisoned or ex-prisoner parent(s) or carer(s) can demonstrate a significant relationship with the child or young person;
  • the child or young person lives in New South Wales, Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory;
  • they have no other practical/ appropriate means of travelling to visit their parent or attending the relevant group or function; and
  • if the visit is in the best interests of the child or young person.
  • Some children have special priority for the service. Children who will receive priority for the service are:
    • newborn babies
    • children recently separated from their primary carer
    • children experiencing severe trauma as a result of their primary carer’s incarceration.

Who assesses a child’s eligibility to use the service?

A SHINE for Kids caseworker is responsible for assessing a child or young person’s suitability to benefit from this Service.

Who is responsible for carrying out the service?

The Transport Service is carried out by trained Transport Workers and by trained volunteers.

All Transport Workers and volunteers:

  • must have a current drivers licence
  • will have been assessed as suitable to work with children and young people on the basis of the Working With Children Check
  • will have successfully undergone a criminal record check by the Corrective Services NSW
  • are trained in working with children and young people.

Case study: ”If it were not for SHINE for Kids I would not be able to see them”

Nicholas*, 3, and Anna*, 6, had not seen their imprisoned father Steve* for more than six months and they missed him severely. During Steve’s lengthy sentence the children’s mother had partnered with another man and no longer wished to see her ex-husband or wanted to support the children’s connection with their father.

Our supported transport has provided Nicholas and Anna with six visits during this year, allowing them to bond with their father during structured activities in the visits centre at Margoneet Correctional Centre. Each time the children see the SHINE for Kids Transport Workers they are very excited and fill the one-hour journey to the prison with lots of chatter or by engaging with the activity packs provided. Our support of these children helps them cope with having a parent in prison and prepares them and their father for his scheduled release in 2017.

Steve recently wrote to us saying, “I am so happy that you bring my kids to see me … I appreciate it and your staff are lovely people. If it were not for SHINE for Kids I would not be able to see them, so it’s a wonderful opportunity and I thank SHINE for Kids for doing what they can to help me and my kids and I thank whoever funds SHINE for Kids. Thank you so much, my relationship with my children has grown stronger and they are more than happy to come and see me and they really love it, so I thank you all so much.”