Councils failing children with parents in jail, Barnado's finds
Scottish councils are failing to help some of the country's most vulnerable youngsters, according to a leading children's charity
Research from Barnardo's found that only four Scottish councils out of 32 had specific plans to deal with children whose parents are in prison, risking a continuing cycle of youth offending. This is despite UK government guidelines that require councils to set out plans to support vulnerable children.
The report, Every Night You Cry, suggests that children from homes with at least one parent in prison are far more likely to have mental health issues and behave antisocially.
Tam Baillie, Scotland's Children's Commissioner, estimates there are 16,000 children in Scotland with one parent in prison – more than the total number of children in Scottish care homes. He said: "I have been calling for a review of this for some time and am pleased there is a growing awakening on this issue. I fully endorse the recommendations in the report and hope to see improvement in the future."
The Barnardo's pamphlet found that 13 out of 150 councils in England and only two out of 22 in Wales mentioned the children of prisoners as a vulnerable group.
Anne Houston, chief executive of Scottish charity Children 1st, said: "Children of prisoners have a wide variety of needs, from basic care, food and housing. We must ensure that their needs, and their rights, are attended to – they are not the offenders but sometimes are treated as such."
20 October 2009