Every year, 23,000 children throughout New Zealand suffer the distress and heartache of losing a dad and/or mum, due to imprisonment.
These children often live in poor households, with a parent or carer who is often forced to relocate, and who themselves may be struggling to cope.
Many of these children are dealing with shame, embarrassment, stigma and loneliness. Most of us will have experienced stress in our lives but that stress is usually short-lived, and we can recover afterwards. Thousands of children are sadly living in environments where hope doesn’t exist, paying for crimes they did not commit.
support programmes to children who have a parent in prison, their caregivers and family and whanau.
Pillars has a range of services available which also link with other services in the community.
This programme is the heart of our work.
Our team of social workers provide help and support so the family or whanau can cope with all the challenges they face when someone in the family goes to prison.
We provide the required level of support to the families over a period which can range from three to 12 months.
This support is free, confidential and non-judgemental.
Families are helped to find their way through the complicated justice system and Government departments like Corrections, Housing NZ or Oranga Tamariki. They can also be helped to find accommodation and learn parenting and budgeting skills.
Mentoring Programme for Children 5 to 17 years old
This programme works alongside the Family Wraparound service to match children in the families with volunteer mentors.
A child with a parent in prison can be helped by having a mentor. The mentors provide support through meeting regularly with the child for fun and developmental activities aimed at building strong relationships and a positive future by providing consistency and stability in their lives at a time when they desperately need it.
Mentors are screened and trained before embarking on the relationship with the child and are provided with ongoing support.
In collaboration with Ara Poutama Aotearoa in Auckland and Hamilton, Pillars is providing mental health services for whanau who have a family member in prison. The Pillars Social Work Team work directly with the family member in prison or on community probation and Pillars is supporting up to 50 whanau in Hamilton and South Auckland.
Family Pathway Centres – Christchurch and Invercargill Prisons
These family friendly spaces in prisons allow families to regularly use the Family Pathway Centres and interact in a more natural way.
The child friendly environment helps strengthen the bonds between the child and their father. This programme is run with the support of the Department of Corrections/Ara Poutama Aotearoa
Invisible Sentence Training
This training is provided by Pillars nationally to all professionals where their work brings them into contact with the children of prisoners and their families. It provides a range of strategies and resources to help support these children.
This training package is available to various stakeholders involved with children of prisoners.
The next training is yet to be confirmed
Children of Incacerated Parents - Bill of Rights
I have he right to;
- be protected from trauma at the time of a parent/caregiver’s arrest.
- be informed of the arrest in an age-appropriate manner.
- be heard and respected by decision makers when decisions are made about me.
- be considered when decisions are made about the my parent/caregiver.
- be cared for in the absence of the my parent/caregiver in a way that prioritises my physical, mental and emotional needs.
- to speak with, see and touch my incarcerated parent/caregiver.
- to be informed about local services and programmes that can provide support to me as I deal with my parent/caregiver’s incarceration.
- not to be judged, labelled or blamed for my parent/caregiver’s incarceration.
- to have a lifelong relationship with my incarcerated parent/caregiver.