Creating a brighter future for children of prisoners

Wednesday March 12, 2014

Improving the future of children who have a parent or parents in prison is a key focus behind an initiative between Canterbury DHB and Pillars.

The Canterbury DHB has joined forces with the children of prisoner's social services charity to provide 100 vulnerable children and young people in Canterbury health assessments over the next year.

Sue Miles, Canterbury DHB Child and Family Safety Service coordinator, says the initiative is another great example of bringing services closer to people's homes through integration between the health board and community providers.

"We have been allocated a clinic room at Pillars, in St Albans, where a Clinical Nurse Specialist from our Child and Family Safety Service will provide comprehensive psychosocial and physical health assessments to prisoners' children aged 16 years and under," Sue says.

"Many children of prisoners come from less than fortunate homes with very little opportunities and often have complicated health needs that can go overlooked.

Sharen Small, Canterbury DHB Clinical Nurse Specialist, says it's well known that health issues can impact on a child's learning abilities, which can affect their future opportunities. 

"Our assessments are about finding out what their needs are and putting them in contact with the right care and ensuring that care is followed up," Sharen says.

"If we can address those health issues early, then that child has a better chance in life."

Verna McFelin, Pillars chief executive Christchurch, says the organisation is really excited about the service being community based.

"We're really looking forward to providing this service and have had great support from Corrections who see this as a key strategy in reducing future offending in this group," Verna says.

"Research shows children of prisoners are seven times more likely to go to prison than those who are not."

Children who have had an assessment will receive a comprehensive health plan, which Pillars can ensure is followed. Parents and caregivers will be kept informed of their child's health needs and any treatments required.

For media queries contact Amy Milne, Canterbury DHB Media Advisor 027 502 7523 

Page last reviewed: 19 March 2014
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