How to support children to cope with their parent’s imprisonment and enhance their potential to lead safe, included, happy, achieving lives?
On 10 January, MEP Julie Ward and the Brussels-based Alliance for Childhood European Network Group invited COPE to co-organise a two-hour Quality of Childhood (QoC) session at the European Parliament devoted to the issue of children with imprisoned parents.
Given the emphasis on quality childhood, COPE’s presentation addressed the issue from the point of view of the children’s needs and rights, linking this to a more general overview of COPE’s work, values and a look at some ethical questions. The presentation also focused on the importance of frame-reflective analysis (framing an issue in a way as to resonate best with a given target audience), as well as recent progress on the issue. COPE’s presentation can be found below. Among the stakeholders who spoke following COPE’s presentation were Margaret Tuite, European Commission Child Rights Coordinator, MEP Julie Ward (host), MEP Caterina Chinnici and MEP Patrizia Toia. All four expressed their interest in the topic and pledged their support to help COPE take this further at the European level.
The current Alliance for Childhood is composed of twenty-nine members in sixteen countries, a diverse mix of health and education initiatives; child welfare organisations; parenting and family relationships organisations (e.g., European Parents’ Association, Familylab International); early childhood organisations (e.g., European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, Le Furet in France); education organisations (e.g., Experiential Education Project, Universal Education Foundation); networks (e.g., European Network for Child-Friendly Cities, promoting the rights of children and young people at the local political level); and researchers and psychologists working on quality of childhood.
The Quality of Childhood session provided a good opportunity to generate discussion, explore further avenues for advocacy, and expand the topic of prisoners’ children across the broad cross-sectoral range of stakeholders present. Follow-up has been very fruitful, with COPE being invited to join the Alliance for Childhood European Network Group as well as the Learning for Well-Being Community (formerly the Universal Education Foundation).
Building on these connections, COPE has fostered links with the Dutch Janusz Korczak Association, who have asked COPE to contribute an article to their annual Year Book and the Children’s International Press Centre: as part of their new initiative to publish a “Children’s 500” of child rights actors, they have asked COPE to nominate two adults (e.g., Ombudspersons, judges, lawyers, child rights activists) who are changing the lives of children in the field of parental imprisonment: winners will be chosen by a child jury in November 2017.