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AMC Child & Parent day brings “pure joy” to children missing their dad

Child & Parent Days are very special for our families, and the two recently held at Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT were no different. For two siblings visiting their dad for the first time in two years, the day was truly one to remember.

Child and Parent Days provide children with precious bonding time with the mum or dad in custody they are missing.

The unstructured extended visits allow families time to play together, chat and have a cuddle without the pressures of a usual visit and with the aid of lots of activities, snacks, and support from our team.

For siblings Frank*, 15, and Liv*, 10, visiting their dad was filled with excitement and trepidation.

Like many children with a parent in custody, they hadn’t seen him in a long time, over two years, and weren’t sure what to expect.

Frank told our team member that he had butterflies in his stomach but that he “can’t wait to see my dad.”

Our team is used to children expressing lots of feelings as they are getting ready to enter the prison and were able to support him and explain that it was very typical to have mixed feelings at a time like this and that that’s okay, we’ll be there with him the whole time.

Liv was also nervous and said she was worried about going through the metal detector, so our team supported her, saying, “Have you ever been through the metal detector at the airport? It’s just like that.” This helped Liv, who replied that she’d been on a plane and knew what to expect now, and she was made more comfortable by having our team acknowledge and understand her feelings.

Frank told our team member that he had butterflies in his stomach but that he “can’t wait to see my dad.”

As the children waited in the visiting area for their dads to enter the room, everyone was excited!

When the doors opened, the children ran to their dads, and everyone was hugging each other and smiling. Our team said, “There was pure joy and happiness throughout the room! It was an extraordinary moment that would give anyone observing goosebumps.”

From that moment on, any nerves were over, and all the children enjoyed a wonderful time with their dads.

Frank and Liv found a table with their dad, and the three didn’t stop talking the entire time.

Liv, in particular, was overflowing with things to tell her dad about school, home, friends, and everything he had missed.

Frank was smiling the entire time and cracking jokes with his dad. The three family members were at ease and it was like no time had passed at all, even though they hadn’t all been in a room together in years.

Children missing a parent in custody benefit greatly from connection and contact, when appropriate, with their parent in custody.

Knowing that they are loved and that mum or dad is still a part of their life helps ease the feelings of isolation and grief children can experience.

As the day finished, everyone was beaming, but these two siblings in particular had had an extraordinary day with their dad to think back on fondly the next time they missed him.

*Names and images changed to protect program participants

Thank you to ACT Corrective Services for supporting programs at AMC. 

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AMC Child & Parent day brings “pure joy” to children missing their dad

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