In The Presence of Children Resources

Materials for Law Enforcement

With support from the Sills Foundation, SFY has created special materials for officers to use when arresting a parent in the presence of a child. Child psychiatrists, psychologists, police officers, social workers, and most importantly, children themselves contributed to the development of these materials. Mindful that officer safety is paramount, these are guides that may mitigate the trauma experience by children, while not compromising the officer in this most difficult situation.

Thanks to the Sills Foundation, these materials are available from SFY at low cost. They include:

  • Protocol for Officers
  • Guide to Anticipating a Child’s Response at the Time of Arrest
  • Posters for the Booking Room
  • A Card for Parents
  • A Leave-behind Token of Compassion for Small Children, a Teddy Bear

SFY can customize these materials to reflect the needs of individual departments. As an example, our Card for Parents for officers to give to another parent or guardian, can be translated into appropriate languages.

Protocol for Officers

Based on the protocols of police departments and the recent report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, SFY has developed a protocol for dealing with arrests of parents in the presence of children. We recommend this protocol be used as a “check off” list.

Model Policies and Examples of Excellent LEA Policies

SFY recommends agencies develop policies that describe from soup to nuts what should happen for officers encountering children while serving no-knock and other forms of warrants, responding to emergency calls for service and domestic violence matters. In all these situations, youth have been inadvertently traumatized or physically harmed in the process of parental/caretakers’ arrests. 

SFY has drafted a model police and recommends consideration of three excellent policies currently in use in departments across the nation:

SFY’s Guide to Anticipating Children’s Responses at Time of Arrest

The reactions of children who witness the arrest of their parent vary considerably by age. The circumstances also have a great impact on children. Are they witnessing a Raid? Have they watched a Domestic Violence encounter? To aid officers in these trauma-filled situations, SFY has developed a guide to possible reactions by the age of the child. With support from psychiatrists, psychologists and police officers, the guide also includes the best way for an officer to respond to a child’s behavior in an age appropriate manner.

How to Explain a Parent’s Arrest to a Child

Booking Room Posters

These posters can be hung in booking rooms to remind parents to let officers know if they have children who might need care or a welfare check while they are under arrest.

Cards for Parents

Many parents and caretakers do not know that a child’s exposure to the trauma of parental arrest can have long-term consequences. Police officers can play a critical role in explaining the importance of being mindful of a child’s needs following an event and providing a list of local resources. This simple card for parents can be translated and provides space for the department to add contact information for local sources of help.

  • SFY Parent Card (PDF) Also available in Spanish
  • Contact Us To Order Printed Cards
    ($125 requested for quantities over 1,000)

Leave Behind Teddy Bears

SFY collected interviews from children whose parents had been arrested in their presence. Was there anything officer could do to make this difficult situation easier? Children responded by asking for something soft to hold that would help them feel safe and less alone.

While we leave the facts in the officer’s hands, SFY can help officers give a little boy or girl a Teddy Bear, something to hold. Please join us in making life a little better for children who believe they have lost everything.

Police Departments: Contact Us to Order Teddy Bears

Donate to Provide Departments with Teddy Bears: Donate Now

For more information, please email us.

Quotes from Children

SFY collected interviews from children whose parents had been arrested in their presence. Was there anything officer could do to make this difficult situation easier?

Why Should Police Use IPOC Materials?

  • IPOC resources can reduce a child’s trauma during a parent’s arrest.
  • Protocol checklists give officers a guide to follow to keep children safe.
  • Anticipating a child’s response can help the officer prepare for how to talk with the child and ensure that the child has supportive resources.

For Questions or to order Materials

Contact SFY at 617.714.3789 or email us at

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