Children whose parents come into conflict with the law, and particularly those whose parents are incarcerated, experience lasting damage to their lives. Parental involvement with the justice system whether at the time of arrest, during imprisonment, or while under community-based supervision carries extensive costs to society and to a child’s life. It increases the likelihood of developmental delays, learning difficulties, drug use and addiction, difficulties in forming positive personal relationships, poverty-life cycles, homelessness, involvement in crime and incarceration later in life, gang involvement, among others.

Governments work vigorously across many fronts to help children affected by a parent’s incarceration access the support they need. While progress has been made, the particular vulnerability and marginalization of children with incarcerated parents are not sufficiently recognized and children do not always receive the care and protection they need. Many communities don’t have clear guidelines or resources on which programs and initiatives will be the best use of scarce resources.

From 2015 to 2018 ICCLR Senior Associates, Yvon Dandurand, Vivienne Chin, and others worked on community mobilization activities in two Indigenous communities in British Columbia: Terrace and Hazelton. Through this work, the team was able to create a free guide to help communities Support Children with Incarcerated Parents. The team also developed the Framework for Action on Enhancing the Protective Environment for Children of Parents in Conflict with the Law or Incarcerated. These documents are both available online and print copies are being distributed by ICCLR and other project partners including the Elizabeth Fry Society.

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