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Chapter 5: Family Literacy in Prisons

‘I saw Tom read to his little girl for the first time.’

Partner of an imprisoned father at a FliP literacy event

Chapter Overview

Many early years practitioners are unaware if children in their setting have a parent in prison and - even when those circumstances are known - some are ill equipped to support them. This chapter first considers families affected by imprisonment before exploring what can be achieved around family literacy in prisons. Case studies provide examples of the Family Literacy in Prisons (FLiP) programme and how theory and practices are shared with imprisoned participants. Examples include both pre-pandemic work and later work modified to take account of COVID-19 restrictions.

Chapter Objectives:

  • To consider how families are affected by parental imprisonment

  • To introduce the project to provide family literacy workshops for imprisoned fathers

  • To illustrate the difference that Family Literacy in Prisons can make a difference

  • To present work before and during COVID-19 restrictions.

Further reading

Minson, S., (2021) ‘The impacts of prison lockdown on children whose parents are in prison: findings from a UK study April 2020-June 2020’ Oxford: University of Oxford, https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxlaw/the_impact_of_covid-19_prison_lockdowns_on_children_with_a_parent_in_prison.pdf
This report identifies the difficulties faced by children whose parents were in prison during the prison in the early period of 2020 lockdown

Nutbrown, C., Clough, P. Stammers, L., Emblin, N. and Alston-Smith, S. (2019) Family literacy in prisons: fathers’ engagement with their young children, Research Papers in Education, 34:2, 169-191, DOI: 10.1080/02671522.2017.1402085
An evaluation of the first phase of Family Literacy in Prisons, project.

Farmer, M. (2017) The Importance of Strengthening Prisoners' Family Ties to Prevent Reoffending and Reduce Intergenerational Crime London: Ministry of Justice
A review of the importance of family and relationships to prisoners’ rehabilitation, and work in prisons to sustain family contact.