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The situation of children with an imprisoned parent in Switzerland

At a glance


Imprisonment is a great burden not only for the offender, but also for his or her family members. Previous studies on the effects of incarceration on relatives show that relatives are sometimes exposed to considerable economic, social and emotional problems. For children in particular, the loss of a parent can have serious consequences for their social and emotional development. In Switzerland, there is a lack of systematically collected information on the situation of children with an incarcerated parent. As a result, in 2015 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made a recommendation to Switzerland to close this gap in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by conducting a study on affected children. In response, the Federal Council decided on two measures (report of 18.12.2018): (1) It is to be examined how an improved data situation on affected children can be created. (2) A qualitative study is to provide information on how correctional institutions observe the child's right to maintain relations with the incarcerated parent. Against this background, this qualitative study commissioned by the Federal Office of Justice examines the situation of children with an imprisoned parent in Switzerland. The main components of the project are, on the one hand, an inventory of the current practice of various correctional institutions and other organizations that may be professionally involved with children with an imprisoned parent (social services, KESB, children's homes, school social work, private organizations). Second, the experiences and perspectives of those affected will be collected, i.e., children, incarcerated and non-incarcerated parents. Finally, examples of best practice will be identified and the needs and requirements for a nationwide statistic will be examined.