PRT Associate Sarah Beresford is leading a new project, funded by the Churchill Fellowship Activate Fund, to pilot and evaluate the use of a Child Impact Assessment for children with a primary carer (usually a mother) in the criminal justice system (CJS).  

The Child Impact Assessment is a framework which aims to ensure children are listened to at every stage of their mother’s journey (arrest, court, imprisonment or community sentence, release) and that they are meaningfully and appropriately involved in decision-making about their care and any support needs they may have. The accompanying notes aim to provide background information to those working with children who have a mother in the CJS; increase awareness of the sensitivities involved; and offer suggestions of support children may need.  

The project will consider how the assessment is best used to ensure children are sensitively recognised and appropriately supported. This will be done by using the Child Impact Assessment directly with children who have (current or recent) experience of a mother in the CJS and through a series of conversations and roundtable discussions with a wide range of stakeholders.

The testing of the Child Impact Assessment will be carried out between September 2021 and March 2022 in multiple contexts throughout the UK to enable a robust evaluation of its potential wider use.

The project will consider the following key questions:
  • Is the Child Impact Assessment child-friendly, relevant, and appropriate?
  • How can we ensure children have choice and agency in who completes the Child Impact Assessment with them?
  • What training might be necessary in order to ensure the Child Impact Assessment is used appropriately with children?
  • How should data about children be collected, collated, and shared?
  • What are the possible referral routes for a Child Impact Assessment to be undertaken?
  • How might Child Impact Assessments be best integrated within existing systems processes whilst remaining child-centered?
  • Are the accompanying notes helpful and appropriate?  
Several recent reports have highlighted the fact that children with a mother in the CJS are particularly vulnerable, yet very few receive support. This project will explore whether Child Impact Assessments are a helpful tool in building children’s resilience to cope with the trauma, grief, and stigma that they often experience.  

For further information about this project, or to provide feedback on the Child Impact Assessment, the accompanying notes, or key questions listed above contact Sarah Beresford

Click here for the Child Impact Assessment Data Protection guidelines

Picture with kind permission from Time-Matters UK