Arts, craft and diversionary activities for children visiting their parent in prison

Visiting prisons can be a traumatic, confusing and frequently upsetting time for children who must cope with conflicting emotions and a harsh, child-unfriendly environment. When children encounter a more enjoyable visit with their parent, they will develop a stronger child-parent bond.

Even as some children spend each weekend centred around visiting a parent in prison and the processes for entering prison, other children will only have the opportunity to visit with their parent on a very occasional basis depending on the distances to travel and lifestyles of their carers.

Not only are visitors forbidden from taking any item into the prison visiting area – meaning children have no comforting toys, books or activities to entertain themselves during visits of one, two or even three hours – children must also cope with engaging with a parent they may have spent time with only sporadically if at all, in a very controlled, noisy and busy environment.

Staffed by a qualified and experienced childcare worker employed by SHINE for Kids, together with trained volunteers, the Prison Invisits Program offers enjoyable and relaxing activities to occupy children between times spent talking to their parent. Through the peer support gained during these activities, children also experience fewer feelings of isolation, bolster their emotional wellbeing and increase their resilience.

The Prison Invisits Program has an impact on the environment of the whole visits area. As their children have things to do, parents and carers have more opportunities to relate with each other in an adult context rather than being focused on the continual supervision of their children during the visit. They also have the opportunity to receive information regarding other services which may be suitable for their children.