YSS is launching a service in Worcestershire to support every child and young adult affected by the imprisonment of a loved one.

Nationally, an estimated 312,000 children are affected by parental imprisonment – in Worcestershire this figure is estimated at 2,500. The health and educational impact on these children is largely documented, yet they remain largely invisible.

The Families First service aims to bring together professionals and community organisations to design a response that will reduce the distress experienced by these children and their families. Over the long term this adverse childhood experience affects children’s life chances in education, mental health and identity.

Catherine Kevis, CEO at YSS explains: “These children are victims of circumstances outside of their control, yet they carry the shame associated with the imprisoned parent’s offence. During lockdown, prison visits were halted and not every family has the means to connect virtually; this has exacerbated the issue with many children unable to connect with their missing parent. We would encourage friends and family to contact us and talk to our workers if they know a child in need of help; we do not judge, we want to deploy our knowledge to help them through difficult times”. 

Councillor Andy Roberts, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children and Families said:  “As the county’s lead councillor for children’s services I am pleased to support the Families First service and what YSS has done to support its launch. The effect on children of having a parent or significant adult imprisoned is not always clear or easy to identify. However, the research suggests that some children will be adversely affected. To provide the potential for invaluable early help the minimum a family needs is to have the opportunity to access information and an ability to contact someone for support. It is important for them to be in touch with someone who will understand their experience.

The new service will launch in December, with support from Worcestershire County Council and two charitable trusts.