EARLY Years Scotland, the leading national third sector organisation invested in children under five, has secured funding to further assist more of the 27,000 children in Scotland who have a parent serving time in prison.
A new £88,000 grant, received from Big Lottery Improving Lives Grant, is for an initial three-year period and will enable Early Years Scotland to work with children whose parents are serving time in HMP Castle Huntly as well as providing increased assistance to those with a parent in HMP Barlinnie.
Early Years Scotland already work in several prisons to support young children whose lives are affected by parental imprisonment.
The new funding will allow a fully-qualified Early Years Practitioner to manage a family area for inmates and their children at HMP Barlinnie for seven days a fortnight and also provide the same service for one day every two weeks at HMP Castle Huntly.
Jean Carwood-Edwards, chief executive of Early Years Scotland, notes: “The primary focus of our organisation is the well-being and development of children under the age of five, living in Scotland.
“It is scientifically proven that bonding and thereafter maintaining a relationship with parents is both fundamental and vital to a child’s development.
“However, until fairly recently, youngsters with a parent in prison have been hugely disadvantaged at this crucial time in their young lives.
“As a result of this funding, we can have fully qualified members of our team on hand to help these children and their parents interact positively, be it through reading stories, singing songs playing and learning with their parent–things most of us take for granted. As a result, the young children involved don’t miss out on this crucially important part of childhood which underpins their future development.”
Research shows clearly that prisoners who are able to spend meaningful time with their children during incarceration, thereby fostering strong relationships, provides a real insight into what they would lose, if there was a return to prison.
Since 2012, Early Years Scotland has been working increasingly in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service at HMP Dumfries, HMP Low Moss and more recently, HMP Barlinnie, as a result of £1m, five-year funding from 21st Century Funding from Big Lottery.
Early Years Scotland also supports the children of prisoners in HMP Grampian, and they are now receiving a growing number of requests for their services from other Scottish Prisons.
As a result, the organisation is currently seeking to secure additional funding to allow them to work with children who have a parent serving time in prison, in other parts of the country.
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