Research into the children and families affected by parental imprisonment has demonstrated a range of well‐being concerns and proposed a comprehensive array of policy and practice responses, but little practical change has been achieved. With a focus on the Victorian justice system, we provide an overview of the literature and the current service provision, investigating why the policy inertia has persisted. Using feminist theory on the ethics and practices of care, we reexamine the findings of two significant Australian studies into the child and family‐centeredness of professionals within the police, courts, prisons and child protection agencies. We demonstrate that, at best, care is fragile and rendered from the margins of roles that are designed to be care‐less in relation to this cohort. At worst, justice system personnel and procedures can be resolutely uncaring. We suggest that reluctance among policymakers to displace attention from “core business” may explain the absence of policies to care for children and families of imprisoned parents, and highlight two further strategies: leadership to protect and extend the fragile care practice within the justice system; and new mandates to care for children and families of imprisoned parents extending from family‐oriented human services outside the justice system.
Australian Journal of Social Issues – Wiley
Published: Oct 2, 2021
Keywords: child welfare; ethics; justice; prisons; Victoria
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