The Open University Partners With YSS To Research The Impact On Children When A Parent Is In Prison

The Open University’s (OU) Children’s Research Centre has partnered with charity, YSS to conduct a two-year study into the impact on children, young people and their families when a parent or carer is in prison. The Families First project, which is funded by Worcestershire County Council, aims to improve services that support families affected by the incarceration of a loved one, in particular to help with housing, employment and social connection.

Led by OU academics, Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth, Dr Victoria Cooper; Professor of Education (Early Years), Jane Payler and Psychology Associate Lecturer, Dr Stephanie Jane Bennett – the study will draw on quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys and in-depth interviews to better understand the lived experiences of families and whether there are shared commonalities in the issues they face.

Academic lead, Dr Victoria Cooper, said:

“The families of prisoners are often overlooked and at times marginalised. They carry the burden of social stigma and can face emotional and financial difficulties. This study will bring to life these experiences, raise awareness and provide greater targeted support through YSS and the Families First project.”

YSS provide community focused support to enable people who face significant life challenges to feel safe and to have the opportunity to thrive and realise their potential. The charity’s Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Kevis, commented:

“We are proud to be associated with The Open University for this two-year study which will provide quality insights into this important issue. The question is never routinely asked of a child and their family whether they have someone in prison, yet the experience has a serious effect on a child’s life. If we are unable as a society to identify these children, they become invisible, and we are unable to support them.

“Our Families First project aims to raise awareness and provide face-to-face support for families affected. I’d encourage anyone with experience of parental incarceration, in a personal or professional capacity, to complete the survey.”

The ‘Families with a Parent in Prison’ survey is open now and only takes 10 minutes to complete, please visit:

Initial findings from the study are due to be released in 2022. For further information, please visit:

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