News & Views

26th Feb, 2024

“This is me” – Child Impact Assessments

“This is me” is a toolkit of resources to support children at all stages of a parent’s journey through the justice system.

Published by the Prison Reform Trust in December 2022, the “This is me” toolkit is inspired by, and rooted in, the experience of children and young people with a parent in the criminal justice system. They said they do not want another report with yet more recommendations; they want action. They want to be seen, listened to, and considered at all stages of their parent’s journey through the justice system: arrest, court and sentencing, prison or community sentence, and prior to their release. They want to be supported, and they want to be included in decisions about that support. Child Impact Assessments aim to do exactly that. The toolkit is arranged in the following sections:

 

1.    What is a Child Impact Assessment? Child Impact Assessments are not about assessing children, rather their needs. They are not about the parent; instead, the focus is on the child and their feelings. Importantly, the use of Child Impact Assessments is not proposed as a statutory procedure; they should be offered to children with the aim of providing support. Although originally designed for children with a mother in the justice system, the Child Impact Assessment framework and accompanying notes for practitioners have been adapted for children with a father in the justice system;

2.    Why do we need Child Impact Assessments? There is compelling evidence from children that Child Impact Assessments will lead to a better understanding of their needs and increased support;

3.    Who should support children with a Child Impact Assessment? Child Impact Assessments can be used by a wide range of practitioners, from statutory and voluntary services, as a tool to better understand children’s needs. Keeping children safe, listening without judgement, and sharing information sensitively are vital. The accompanying notes are a guide for practitioners and contain helpful information about how children might be feeling as well as practical actions to support children. Training is key;

  1. How might Child Impact Assessments be used? The toolkit explains the importance of working in partnership and the role criminal justice agencies and universal and specialist services can play to ensure children get the support they need at the earliest opportunity;
  2. How does the Child Impact Assessment work in practice? This is explained by a series of case studies based on children’s actual experiences, followed by scenarios that demonstrate the difference a Child Impact Assessment could make and what actions are needed for this to be implemented; and
  3. How can we pilot the use of Child Impact Assessments? “This is me” contains a range of practicable resources for partnership groups to pilot, and evaluate, the use of Child Impact Assessments in their own context. The resources can also be used as standalone documents in the ongoing support of children. These include:

Children Impact Assessment for children with a father in the justice system

Accompanying notes for practitioners supporting children with a father in the justice system

  1. Child Impact Assessment for children with a mother in the justice system

Accompanying notes for practitioners supporting children with a mother in the justice system

To find out more about using Child Impact Assessments to support individual children, or as part of a pilot project to embed their use within existing processes, contact Sarah Beresford on sarah.beresford@prisonreformtrust.org.uk

 

Image from Time-Matters UK

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