VACRO will present research on families and imprisonment at the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents (ICCIP)’s biennial conference, hosted virtually from the United States from 29 September to 1 October 2021.  

Strategic Research and Evaluation Designer Aaron Hart and Development Manager Melanie Field-Pimm will present their paper on issues affecting the children and families of people in prison – arguing that despite significant work and research over the past 20 years, little progress has been made. 

Key points:
  • VACRO will present at the International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents’ global research conference 
  • Aaron Hart will present a paper that considers who is best-placed to care for the wellbeing of children and families of people – an area where little progress has been made despite decades of work  
  • Research like this provides the evidence needed to inform good policy-making and decision-making for families involved with the justice system 

The paper examines the limitations of the justice system in promoting the wellbeing of children and families, and concludes that care for this group might be better served by mainstream child and family services instead of by expanding the mandate of the justice system to cover families. 

Aaron said VACRO’s engagement at the ICCIP conference provided an opportunity to broaden perspectives and strengthen our practice. 

“International conferences are important because we learn to see our own assumptions and habits of mind more clearly when we encounter something different,” he said.   

For example, the US has a policy and research focus on ‘re-entry’ from prison, and their frameworks strive for a scientific approach. Research and policy in the UK has a ‘resettlement’ approach, and their frameworks strive for a social process, taking into account the cultural, symbolic and structural forces at play. Australian research and policy draw from both these traditions. Conversations at the international level bring these differences into view and leave everyone with a broader perspective.” 

VACRO’s research function was developed in late 2019 to strengthen our service delivery and better identify and respond to emerging needs in prisons and communities.  

VACRO CEO Marius Smith said the ICCIP conference presentation demonstrated VACRO’s capacity and connections in criminal justice research. 

“We deliver services to thousands of prison leavers and their families every year," he said.

"That work generates an enormous quantity of data about what works and what doesn’t, and we have an obligation to share that data with the research community to improve understanding of how our participants can best be supported. We think that it’s especially important to contribute our knowledge on how the justice system affects families and children. It’s a vitally important issue, and one that remains under-researched.” 

The INCCIP was launched in 2015 to support the voices and rights of children during a parent’s imprisonment. 

Its biennial conference, first hosted in 2017, provides best practices for responding to children’s needs, and shared practices, policies and operations that contribute to children’s thriving in spite of parental incarceration. 

VACRO is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this important global network. 

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