1st October 2004

The Norwegian Red Cross, which oversees some thirty visits centers for offenders’ families and kin (Norway has forty prison establishments), is launching a new program specifically aimed at children with imprisoned parents. As part of the project, the Red Cross will be carrying out a special training program for volunteers to accompany children on prison visits to see their imprisoned parents. Preparation for the project involves a preliminary awareness-raising campaign for prison personnel and police officers. In Norway , police officers are responsible for certain categories of remand offenders. In researching the program, two Red Cross staff members, Kathinka Steenstrup, visitor service development advisor, and Eva Aarrestad Eriksen, director of children’s relief, visited the Fédération des Relais Enfants Parents (FREP) in Montrouge , France . A Eurochips member, FREP has been organizing prison visits for children with incarcerated parents for nearly 20 years, relying on specially trained volunteers to accompany the child. FREP estimates that nearly one-third of children with parents in prison have difficulties maintaining family ties with the imprisoned parent due to family conflict. The Norwegian Red Cross program is scheduled to begin operating in early 2005.

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Author: rmchristen