Directory of Research

All research and evidence on NICCO is reviewed using a Quality Assessment Tool (QAT) developed by the University of Huddersfield and Barnardo's.

Research and evidence is assessed in four key areas: Methodological Quality, Child-Centredness, Relevance to Policy and Strategy, and Relevance to Practice with offender's children. This ensures that items on the NICCO website are as useful as possible to academics, practitioners, commissioners and other professionals. For more information about the development of the QAT or to review research in order to list it on NICCO, please see the QAT webpage where you can download the Tool, Guidebook and a short step-by-step 'How To' document. Please contact us to submit quality assessed research on to NICCO.

Click on the icons to see a full list of items which have been awarded a standard icon or icon+ (for items which have scored particularly highly) in each key area:

This report is the output of a review carried out jointly by the Ministry of Justice (National Offender Management Service) and the Department for Children, Schools and Families (then Children, Young People and Families Directorate, DfES). The review involves experts, practitioners, families and policy makers. The report firstly notes that children of prisoners experience poorer outcomes and the numbers of this group are increasing. The field visits conclude that there is no shared, robust information on who children of prisoners are, there is little awareness of their needs and no systematic support for them. Further, there is a lack of knowledge, evidence and understanding about what works and the support system is fractured both over time, and across the family unit. Policy recommendations include: - a mechanism to enable local authorities to systematically assess and meet the child's needs, underpinned by evidenced-based guidance, awareness raising and coherent information - close work with the Social Exclusion Task Force to incentivise delivery partners to adopt an approach that improves outcomes for the whole family, and fully engages and supports socially excluded families. Download Children of Offenders Review below:
This study uses in depth qualitative interviews with family members to look into the impacts a custodial sentence has on families and how they respond to financial, emotional and social challenges. The study also conducts an evaluation on support services for families of prisoners. The report summarises that disadvantage associated with imprisonment included high rates of depression, physical illness and housing disruption. There are also key findings around financial instability, barriers to employment and child poverty. The report notes that maintaining family ties with the prisoner are financially draining despite families being officially recognised as key in prisoners' rehabilitation. The study also uncovers disadvantage with regard to families of foreign nationals who may have no access to public recourse and could face deportation. Conclusions are that a combination of criminal justice and social welfare policy puts children in particular into poverty, at a disadvantage and into exclusion with the main reason for this being welfare benefit dependence which amounts to below the Government poverty level. The study looks into the The New Deal for Lone Parents (a welfare to work initiative) and its failing to take responsibility of and priority given to care for Children with a family member in prison into account. The study also notes concern around the limitations of statutory and voluntary organisations (especially those based in the community) due to the commissioning aspect of the then emerging NOMS. See Poverty and Disadvantage below:
Click here
This Big Lottery funded study looks at resettlement of fathers. The article considers previous studies which have shown that parental imprisonment is a risk factor in the development in familial relationships and conversely considers the benefits to viewing families with strong ties as a resource for protecting children of prisoners and reducing reoffending. The study is the first longitudinal study in the UK and Europe to investigate the positive and negative outcomes for parents and children using data collected from them. It considers the quality of family relationships, contact during imprisonment, communication and problem solving, parenting and care-giving, social support networks, stigmatisation, finances, employment, housing, participation in support programmes, health issues, social behaviour and other factors. The aim of the research is to increase knowledge of such processes and to assist the National Offender Management Service and third sector to develop more effective interventions for imprisoned fathers, their (ex)partners and their children. See Risk and protective factors in the resettlement of imprisoned fathers below:
Click here
This Big Lottery Funded study focuses on under-researched groups of children and the kin carers who look after them when their parents are unable to (one reason being that their parent(s) are in prison). The official number of children in England referred by children's services to live with kin is less than 7,000. However, those living "informally" with friends or relative carers as privately arranged by family is estimated at 200-300,000 in England and Wales. The report looks at how well the needs of these children and their carers are met and examines what services or financial support may be needed to enhance the children's development and reduce negative impact on the family. The study looks at 2001 Census Data to analyse characteristics of children and kin care households. In addition standardised and measured interviews were conducted with 80 8-18 year olds, who live under informal kinship care, to uncover their views about what would make their outcomes better. Only 8% of children in this study have a parent in prison, however, many of the issues uncovered are the same across kinship caring households. Interviews were also conducted with the carers. The aim of the research for Buttle UK is to influence national policy and local practice to improve circumstances and outcomes for children and in turn their informal kinship carers. See The Poor Relations below:
Click here
This report highlights the practice learning emerging from Barnardo's pilot services based in the community that worked with children and their families affected by imprisonment. The report is based on interviews with the children and families involved with these services, and also the project workers. Their experiences of having a family member in prison, as well as their experiences of the Barnardo's pilot services, are used to develop messages for practice. The messages include the importance of ongoing, direct work with children, the need to support parents in talking to their children about imprisonment, the need for professionals to engage with wider family members, in particular grandparents, and the importance of working closely with schools to support children. The report also discusses wider questions around practice development, such as the identification of children of prisoners and the need for a wider family-focused approach in various services. The messages for practice are relevant to other community-based services for children and families of prisoners and also in supporting mainstream children's services to effectively address the needs of this group of children. See Working with Children with a Parent in Prison below:
Click here
This research was conducted in Scotland although it can be read and learned from by people from any country. It notes that in Scotland in 2009 there were more children with a parent in prison than experiencing divorce, and explores the idea that separation as a result of parental imprisonment is traumatic for those children. The report looks at literature around this trauma including the likeliness of these children developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and offending behaviours in later life. The researcher interviewed a small sample of children, young people and some carers. The findings were concerned with experiences e.g. grandparental care of children, the want for their views being taken into account by a judge and the impact the imprisonment of a parent has had on them e.g. levels of anxiety. The report concludes that children's rights, views and best interests must be taken into account in the event of parental imprisonment and makes recommendations for Scottish Policy, courts, remand and sentencing. See Perspectives of Children below:
Click here

Our Partner

The Centre is delivered by Barnardo’s in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
NICOO Partners