The imprisonment of a household member is one of ten adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) known to have a significant negative impact on children’s long-term health and wellbeing, their school attainment, and later life experiences. Recent research suggests a link between parental imprisonment and premature death. As most primary care givers are women, the imprisonment of a mother is particularly devastating for children, affecting every aspect of life and generating a wide range of emotions, including grief, trauma, and shame.

This report sets out the findings of the Transforming Lives “What about me?” project and makes recommendations to ensure that the best interests of children are considered at all stages of the criminal justice system if their primary carer, usually their mother, is in trouble with the law. Most of the recommendations can be applied to improve outcomes for children whose fathers are in prison.

What about me?