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Question

157. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will commit to an interdepartmental and inter-agency strategy for supporting children with a parent in prison. [12674/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan sets out the commitment of the Prison Service to strengthen family supports to facilitate on-going contact with prisoners while in custody and their reintegration post release, with appropriate supports and programmes.
The Director General of the Irish Prison Service established the Families & Imprisonment Group (FIG), and tasked the group with examining existing visiting facilities for all prisoners and in particular to address the needs of children and families as highlighted in the report published by the Irish Penal Reform Trust titled "Picking up the Pieces: The Rights and Needs of Children and Families Affected by Imprisonment".
FIG is currently overseeing the delivery of the actions identified and is chaired by a prison Governor. This group includes representatives from the Childhood Development Initiative (CDI), the Psychology Service, the Probation Service, the Prison Officer's Association and Tusla. A key goal is to establish a model of through-care to parents returning to the community in partnership with Tusla and other community based organisations.
In summary a high degree of support already exists around children with a parent in prison.