Parental Imprisonment and Child Protection: A Study of Children Presented to the Melbourne Children’s Court
This paper reports on a study funded by the Criminology Research Council, Australia, which set out to investigate the intersection between the child protection and criminal justice systems and the extent to which children before the Melbourne Children’s Court on child protection matters had a parent currently in prison, awaiting sentencing, or previously in prison. Magistrates identified 156 children as meeting these criteria during the study period June to December, 2006. Analysis of court records gathered quantitative and qualitative data about parents’ offending, why the children had been brought to the attention of the court, and the health, welfare, and behavioural concerns the child protection service expressed about the children. There was no coordinated response by the child protection and justice systems to managing these children’s situations. Early intervention and the development of child protection service protocols with the corrections system for children whose parents enter prison is essential, to better address the instability and disruption in care these children experience.
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