Evaluating Early Years Scotland’s work in Scottish prisons

Father and son holding hands in park

Disruption, stress and trauma resulting from parental incarceration have lasting impacts on children, linking to poor mental and physical health and low educational attainment. Supporting parenting in Scotland’s prisons is a crucial step in improving the wellbeing and life chances of these children, as well as those of the incarcerated parents.

Improved stability and consistency in the child’s relationship with the imprisoned parent seems to mitigate some of the negative effects of having a parent in prison, and parenting programmes are commonly used to try and build healthy and nurturing relationships between parents and children.   

This PhD focuses on the Learning Together Through Play programme, run by Early Years Scotland (EYS) in 7 Scottish prisons, with the support of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS). The intervention combines a 10-week education programme for fathers of young children (aged 0-5) with enhanced, play-focused family visits. To evaluate this complex intervention, the study is using participant observation, in-depth interviews with fathers and staff, and collecting pre and post intervention outcome data on knowledge, awareness and attitudes.

The aim of the PhD study is to find out whether, and crucially how, the Learning Together Through Play programme achieves its aims of increasing fathers’ knowledge and skills around play and communication with their children.


Jessica Moran (PhD Researcher) 
Katie Buston
Alison Parkes


How to support children affected by parental imprisonment

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