Are you supporting a child with a parent in prison?  


Supporting children with a parent in prison, might be something you never thought you would have to do. The situation may be complicated, and you may be navigating the criminal justice system for the first time. But when a child's parent goes to prison, it's important to talk to the child about what's happening. They might be confused, sense something is happening, or they might even have already found out some other way. 


At Spurgeons we have worked with prisoner's families for years and have drawn from this expertise to create a series of animations to help you have those necessary conversations with children in your care. 

What difference can you make to children with a parent in prison?  

If you are offering support for a child with a parent in prison you might like to first familiarise yourself with some of the language the child will be hearing.

Our guide offers clear definitions of the stages a child’s parent in prison might be experiencing. From arrest, to being on bail, being on remand and through to sentencing and finally release. Every stage has its unique challenge. 

At each point we have an animated film you can watch suggesting ways to support a young person. Our expert counsellor’s give insight into how a child might be feeling, and most importantly what you can do to support.  

Explore Blossom's story

Blossom*, has two parents, both in prison. She lives with her Grandmother Barbara, and loves the chance to spend time with her dad.

Spurgeons offers them the chance to attend homework club, supports dad to communicate with his daughter through Storybook Dads and on Spurgeons family days at HMP Winchester they have the chance to spend time playing together. 

When I see my dad after he comes out of prison, I don't feel awkward because I've seen him. The way it does helps is just connection really.


7 top tips to support a child with a parent in prison 


  1. Talk. Tell key people in your child's life what is happening. 


  1. Listen to the child. But don’t force them to talk if they don’t want to. Just reassure them that you are there for them. 


  1. Expect changes to the child's behaviour. Comfort them and talk to them about how they're feeling. 


  1. Share your own feelings. Talk to them, in an age-appropriate way, about how you’re feeling. Let them know that it’s ok to feel different emotions. 


  1. Take some time to tell your child what prison is like. They might have only seen it on TV or in cartoons. 


  1. Offer them someone else to talk to. Sometimes they might prefer to speak to a relative, friend, counsellor or teacher rather than you. Let them know this is ok and who they can speak to. 


  1. Reassure them. Let them know they can ask questions and it’s OK to talk about it. Let them know they are not to blame – children often think they are. Reassure them their parent is safe and that they’ll be able to talk to or see them. 

Need support with our help for prisoner's families resource? 

Let us know by filling out our resource support form. 

Get in touch

Explore our prison family support services: