Advice for Parents/Carers/Grandparents to cope if a parent goes to prison
If a parent goes to prison, it can have a big effect on the family members left to look after the children. Often it is the grandparents, other parent or carer who take on the pressure and responsibilities of the missing parent.
Telling a child that their parent has gone to prison can be a difficult conversation, but remember children and young people are very good at digging for information if you don’t tell them they will try and make sense of the little information they have and may well come to the wrong conclusions.
The Prisoners' Families Helpline has lots of information on breaking the news to children.
This benefit follows the child, if you are a grandparent you need to make a claim as soon as you begin caring for your grandchild/grandchildren. You can do this by asking for a claim pack by contacting your Child Benefit Office on:
- Phone: 0300 200 3100
- Website: Claim Child Benefit (GOV.UK)
Although there are no specific benefits for caring for your grandchildren, it is important that you have a financial benefit check. Your situation has changed and there may be other benefits you are entitled to. The Benefits Calculator (GOV.UK) will look at possible entitlements.
Overcrowding: you will not automatically qualify for rehousing, if you are a council tenant you can complete an ‘Application for rehousing’. This is available from Bucks Home Choice. Your application will be considered by a rehousing officer who will make a decision, you will not get a higher priority on the waiting list automatically.
Custody/guardianship of a grandchild
This is a complex area, it is not automatic and may not be necessary. For more information contact your local Citizens Advice Service or a legal representative.
Schooling and Education
If your child/grandchild is moving to live with you, he or she may need to change school. If the period of caring is short term, but you may not know this, you may want to make this decision later. If you are in doubt speak to the Head Teacher at the child's school to see if they still fall within the school catchment area.
GPs and Dentists
GPs: Each GP (General Practitioner) has a catchment area, your child/grandchild will need to register with a new GP if they move and no longer fall within their surgeries catchment area. Normally the GP you are registered with will take on new patients if they are family members living at the same address.
Dentists: It is important that your children/grandchildren have regular check-ups. You can visit any dentist, you do not have to live in the same area. Not all dentists take on NHS patients.
If you have trouble registering at a GP surgery or dentist you can contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
- Aylesbury Vale: 01296 585 900
- Chiltern: 01494 586 600
Each prison will have slightly different arrangements. There may be financial help available from the Help with the costs of Prison Visits phone: 0300 063 2100. When visiting prisons you will have to have ID such as:
These can only be made from the person in prison to you. They will be able to buy prison phone cards (these are not phone cards you can buy in the shops).
Special rules apply to the number of letters which can be sent and received. These vary from when the person is on remand to when someone has been convicted. For more information on these issues contact National Prisoners’ Families Helpline on: 0808 808 2003
Prison Chaplains are a good source of support and help. You do not need to be religious to get their help, this is a non-denominational service in prisons.