Children of Prisoners 

What is it? 

The concerns relating to children of prisoners have been raised with the Commissioner for Children and Young People since her appointment in 2017.  Advocates for Prisoners / Offenders and their families have highlighted the following:

  • There is no formal data collection regarding numbers of children affected by parent incarceration
  • There is no department responsible or funding provided for ongoing support for children and families of prisoners
  • The impact of having a parent / primary carer incarcerated can be significant and complex

There is an understanding that there are a number of other factors impacting on the lives of these children, this includes that many already live in high risk environments and in families experiencing multiple stress factors. 

What we don’t know is how many children and young people are affected by their parents or a primary carer being incarcerated.  Information provided by Advocates suggests there could be as many as 4,000 children in South Australia that have an incarcerated parent.



In South Australia the agencies that are supporting prisoners and offenders are not necessarily funded to work directly with the children.  The supports are limited and reports indicate there are no policies, practice guides or service delivery models that have been developed with this particular group of children in mind.

CCYP will meet with key stakeholders, including incarcerated parents, to understand form their perspective, what needs to change to improve the response and support to their children. CCYP will then meet with groups of children and young people to understand what impact having an incarcerated parent has on a child’s life, and what they believe needs to be done to help improve their circumstances and future outcomes.


CCYP has met with key stakeholders including government departments, support services providers and incarcerated parents.  CCYP has also held focus groups with parents and their children in prison and is conducting focus groups with children and young people, hosted by support agencies.


As a result of focus groups with parents and their children, the Join the Dots report summarises what I have heard from consultations. This includes interactions with systems and recommendations to ensure that children and young people experiencing an incarcerated parent or carer are visible and their wellbeing is taken into consideration. 

Find Out More about our Children of Prisoner's Project