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Child & Parent Day “Like a dream come true” for very excited kids

A group of VERY excited children of all ages hugged their dads, some for the first time in years, at our Macquarie Correctional Centre Child & Parent Day.

These special days are all about kids getting access to quality, child-focused time with their parent and our team member Tanya said watching the emotion as kids ran in to see dad after so long “brought tears to my eyes”.

It wasn’t only the sight of dad that brought so much excitement.

Staff from the centre and the dads had put in a HUGE effort to deck out the vising area and make it as inviting and colourful as possible for the kids!

Decorations, toys, activities, craft supplies of every kind and a huge table full of delicious snacks made by the centre cafe greeted the kids and let them know that today would be a good day.

Child & Parent Days are so special for families.

They are a rare chance for kids to get that much-missed quality time with their parent in as normal an environment as possible.

Dads and kids played ball games, painted each other’s faces, created artworks, Gathered in a Yarning Circle, and mainly just got time to be together without the time pressures and strict rules of a regular visit.

Child & Parent Days are also a chance for dad in custody to bond with his kids and take on the role of primary caregiver for a few hours.

This might mean giving his baby a bottle or making sure his toddler has had lunch, all the regular things that kids are missing out on doing with their dad.

Seeing dad be a positive parent role model during these days is truly invaluable and can have beneficial effects well into the future.

The feedback we have received from dads, kids and families has been truly heartwarming.

Dads said the day was “perfect”, “it’s been amazing”, and “a wonderful day” and made them feel “happy, excited and loved.”

“The highlight was seeing my daughter. She was only three months old when I was incarcerated,” said one dad who was overjoyed to be able to hug his daughter and show her he loves her even though he’s not at home anymore.

This was a sentiment shared by lots of the dads. Another dad said, “The best part was showing my kids I still care for them, even though I’m in jail.”

Other feedback included:

“Today was the longest time I’ve ever spent with my daughter. Thank you.”

“I haven’t seen my son in person for three years, so today has been wonderful.”

“The best part [of today] was quality time together. The kids were just babies when I was incarcerated.”

We know that all of these excited kids left at the end of the day feeling that bit closer to dad and that bit more confident and happy in themselves.

As everyone had their last goodbye hug (for now!), the kids shared how important the day had been for  them, one saying, “I don’t want the day to end.”

Another said they felt “happy and excited. [Today was] fun!”.

For the older kids, the day was, as one kid put it, “like a dream come true.” She said, “Dad and I have always been close – no matter what. But today helped.”

And for the dads, keeping this vital family connection with their kids and feeling more confident in their role as a parent has many benefits, including less likelihood of offending again if released.

Families travelled large distances and took time off work to make sure they could be there, and we are already being asked by everyone involved when the next event will be held!

We were blown away by the gratitude of the men, many of whom asked how they could donate to support our cause and more days like this, “I’m just very thankful for the day.”

Thank you to Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, the Macquarie Correctional Centre staff, Custodial Services officers, and the NSW Department of Communities and Justice for helping make this day possible. It was one that no one would soon forget.

Also, thank you to the NSW Department of Communities and Justice Macquarie staff for catering the event and setting up the space so beautifully.

Please, donate here and help make magical days like this happen.

The benefits for kids last well beyond the day. 

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Child & Parent Day “Like a dream come true” for very excited kids

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