Supporting incarcerated mothers in Ireland with their familial relationships; a case for the revival of the social work role
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Sinead, O’Malley, & Carmel, Devaney. (2016). Supporting incarcerated mothers in Ireland with their familial relationships; a case for the revival of the social work role. Probation Journal, 63(3), 293-309. doi: 10.1177/0264550516648393
All families need both formal and informal supports throughout their life course. Parents relationships with their children need to be promoted, supported and maintained. For parents living with their children and acting as their primary carer this role, although fulfilling, is filled with challenges. At particular points in time and for a variety of reasons parents need to be supported in carrying out this role, striving towards healthy family functioning. For parents where there are additional stressors associated with their relationship with their children. The impact of this can be significant and far reaching for all involved. Incarcerated mothers and their children face particular difficulties in maintaining their relationships and for mothers to ‘perform’ a mothering role. Throughout the stages of childhood, family breakdown and separation from their mother is a traumatic experience for children. This paper considers the current provision within the Irish Prison System for supporting incarcerated mothers in their efforts to maintain relationships with their children and wider family members and highlights the deficits within this. This paper argues the case for reviving the role of supportive social work practitioners to work alongside incarcerated mothers in an effort to retain and realise their parental rights and duties and to maintain relationships with their children.
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