1 February 2023
Te Pā is a proud partner of Share My Super, whose donors help support our Te Ohomai Rangatahi service. This month their blog features another of Te Pā’s services that supports vulnerable children and young people in Aotearoa.
Te Pā and the Child Travel Fund – Strengthening whānau connection for tamariki and rangatahi
Currently, there are 17,000 tamariki and rangatahi with a mum, dad, or both, in prison in Aotearoa. And when a loved one is imprisoned, it inevitably places additional stress and costs on whānau. Factors such as distance and financial constraints are significant barriers to maintaining the positive bonds that are such an integral part of a person’s reintegration when they return to the community, and for the tamariki getting to see their parent – to share what’s going on in their life while mum or dad is away – the value of that in-person relationship is immeasurable.
At Te Pā, we get it: Whānau is central to everything we do – it connects us and harnesses our collective strength. For those in the 18 prisons across the country and their loved ones, the whānau connection is equally important, yet vulnerable to circumstances. Fortunately for many in this position there is some support. Te Pā manages the Child Travel Fund*, a programme that provides financial support for children travelling to visit a parent in prison, or for parents travelling to visit a child under 18 years of age in prison. The purpose of the fund is to keep whānau as unified and strong as possible during what is a particularly tenuous time; especially for tamariki. And, unsurprisingly, when leaving prison a person with strong familial ties and a sense of belonging outside the wire is less likely to reoffend than someone who feels they have no connection to whānau or the community.
In recent years, as many as nearly 500 tamariki per year have been enabled by the Child Travel Fund to spend precious time with a whānau member behind the wire, and we often hear just how much the support means for those living this reality.
“I am on my own with three small babies and on the benefit. Being that my children are at such impressionable ages I feel it is important for them to be able to see their father in prison as much as possible to help them feel comfortable and build a relationship with their dad during the course of his sentence. Te Pā has helped me so much with the costs of driving to and from Hamilton to Auckland for visits. The team has been super friendly and non-judgmental. I’d like to thank everyone involved from the bottom of my heart and would definitely recommend these services to all that qualify and need the extra help.”
“Thank you so much for this programme. It has helped me and my little girl in making sure that we have enough to travel to see her dad. An awesome way to help families with children to see their fathers incarcerated.”
“Thank you so much Shayal for always being prompt and helping even if it’s a question already asked. Thank you, all Te Pā, for your great work and giving us families (especially our children) opportunities to continue to see their other parent in this difficult financial time.”
“Thank you so much. I was very fortunate to hear about this service from a family friend and would like to thank you very much as my dad will be able to meet his granddaughter for the first time which we’re extremely excited about :)”
* Te Pā is National Administrator of the fund on behalf of the Prisoners Aid & Rehabilitation Societies throughout New Zealand and the Salvation Army Reintegration Service.