PILLARS Inc, a registered charity with the Charities Commission has recently published a manual for organisations working with children of prisoners. “The charity (No. CC 23953), registered on 6 May 2006, has just completed “ground-breaking in-depth research on ‘A Study of Children of Prisoners’ in New Zealand. The research [which took more than two years to complete], looked at the impacts of arrest, sentence, and imprisonment of a parent on the children. A core goal of the project was to understand the situation and needs of the children of prisoners, so that the cycle of crime for the next generation can be stopped, and to bring down prisoner numbers by reduction in crime.” (Challenge Weekly, 3 October 2011, p. 3).
On 30 September 2011 the United Nations held a Day of General Discussion (DGD) and for the first time ever the Committee on the Rights of the Child put its spotlight on the rights of ‘children of incarcerated parents’. PILLARS Inc. was given a unique opportunity to share ideas with people around the globe involved in similar work and there were up to 250 participants at the DGD event.
Verna McFelin, chief executive of Pillars, said children were often referred to as the invisible victims of the penal sysyem. In any given day there are an estimated 10,000 children in New Zealand with at least one parent in prison. Pillars has a website www.pillars.org.nz which was recognised by the DGD assembly. On it there is a a link to a website (www.justus.org.nz) which provides advice for those working with the children of prisoners.
Pillars Inc. is generously supported by government grants ($178,395), other grants and sponsorship ($417,761), other income ($7,032) and donations ($38,507) – giving a total gross income of $641,779 (all figures from statement for financial year ending 30 June 2010: www.charities.govt.nz ). The charity has six full-time employees and two working part-time.
Ms McFelin, has provided the SPCS with a list of books that her organisation recommends as suitable for the children of prisoners. The SPCS Books in Prison Project team will be considering the Society funding books to assist families of prisoners.
The books recommended by Ms McFelin for the children of prisoners are:
The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgins ISBN 978-1-4048-6679-9
Dad’s in Prison by Sandra Cain and Margaret Speed ISBN 0-7136-5094-X
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M Holmes ISBN 13-978-1-55798-701-3
When Andy’s Father Went to Prison by Martha Whitmore Hickman –
Let’s Talk About When Your Parent Is In Jail by Maureen K. Wittbold – ISBN 0-8239-5043-3
My Dad’s in Prison – Tess Rowley and Rhiannon McLay – Good Beginni, Australia
The society wishes the team working for Pillars every success in their activities.