Over a quarter of a million separated parents in Britain are set to benefit from £6.5 million of pioneering and innovative support to help them to work together for the sake of their children, the Government said today (10 April).
New funding has been awarded to seven voluntary and third-sector organisations to give around 280,000 separated families creative and targeted help to collaborate in their children’s interests. This is the first of two rounds of funding awards, as part of £20 million dedicated to supporting separated families, and represents a substantial increase in funding for out-of-court support for separated parents by the government.
The schemes include a national “virtual” internet-based mediation service hosted by Relate, together with more localised face-to-face mediation to help parents reach amicable agreements. Also announced are plans for parenting classes for the hardest-to-reach teenage mums and dads, counselling and therapy projects, and specialist support to help those who fear their ex-partners.
Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb, responsible for Child Maintenance, said:
Research shows children fare better if parents work together. So we are working with the voluntary sector to try out new ideas and funding innovative projects to see what best helps parents - from all walks of life - to put their differences aside for the sake of the children. Overall, we are investing £20 million to support parents going through a separation to do the best for their children.
50,000 people have already visited the government-funded web app “Sorting out Separation”. Launched in November last year as part of the wider programme of support for families, it is designed to help parents minimise the impact on their children where they have decided their only option is to part. A network of telephone services offering support with collaboration will also be available later this year.
Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, said:
So many separated parents miss out on the emotional and practical help they need when they break up. We know that when parents can access the right assistance, the impact on them and their children is often significantly reduced. Our new innovative online support will help to plug this gap in accessible and effective provision.
Chief Executive of Spurgeons, Tim Jeffery, said:
By intervening early we aim to improve parenting skills amongst teenage parents, reduce conflict between them and support wider family involvement in the upbringing of children. We’re offering a cutting-edge approach to encourage young mums and dads who are not in a relationship to work together to be the best parents they can.
Notes to Editors:
The seven projects awarded government funding are:
1. One Plus One Marriage & Partnership Research: nationwide online service with face-to-face services in Kent, Lincolnshire, Angus, Stirlingshire, Wrexham and Conwy: £1.5 million.
Working with 7,000 parents soon after separation, this innovative project will provide online “virtual” coaching to separated couples across the country. It will also provide face-to-face coaching in some areas. Drawing on behavioural modelling, parents are encouraged to involve their ex-partner and complete a parenting plan.
2. Relate: England, Scotland and Wales: £1.4 million.
This investment will help 270,000 parents nationwide over the internet; via live web chat, webcam or email. Parents considering or going through separation will be able to access one-to-one or couple support to overcome their practical and emotional barriers to work together to support their children.
3. Howells Limited Liability Partnership: South Yorkshire: £1.4 million
This face-to-face mediation project will target 2000 separating and separated parents living in South Yorkshire with a combined income of less than £45,000 who cannot afford legal services but fall outside of the income bracket where they will receive free help. It will help parents resolve problems themselves and avoid the need to go to court.
4. Spurgeons: West Midlands and Warwickshire: £1.17 million.
This funding will be invested in encouraging co-parenting among some of the hardest-to-reach teenage parents in areas with high rates of teenage pregnancies. Targeted at mums and dads between the ages of 16 and 19 who are no longer together, Spurgeons’ innovative parenting classes aim to arrange parenting agreements for former couples who are no longer communicating. The intensive project will help over 1100 separated families and involve grandparents in the process and help give the children a better future.
5. Resolution: Oxfordshire, Cheshire and Newcastle: £669,000.
Helping low-income couples who miss out on legal aid, this funding will help around 1300 parents. Trained mediation lawyers will work offer face-to-face guidance to help parents resolve their problems and come to their own arrangements without resorting to the courts.
6. Malachi Specialist Family Support Services, Birmingham and West Midlands: £270,000.
Working therapeutically with fathers in Birmingham, Malachi will work in a focused and intensive way with 160 parents to bring them to a realisation of the long-term impact their relationship conflict is likely to have on their children.
7. Resolve Cymru: Powys, Wales: £138,000.
400 parents who cannot or are fearful of engaging with their ex-partner will be helped by Resolve Cymru. They will provide parenting classes, mentoring and counselling for separated parents requiring help to engage with their ex in order to try and encourage them to work together. They will include fathers who have no contact with their children, very young parents, offenders and homeless parents and those receiving help for substance misuse.
For more information go to: www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/general-goods-and-services/innovation-fund-separated-fam/
About the Government’s new online tool for separated parents: “Sorting out Separation” is a web app which includes helpful videos and information on a host of issues affecting men and women going through separation. It offers help on everything from emotional, financial, housing and legal to parenting matters. There is an interactive diagnostic tool, which provides bespoke help and support. It’s hosted by the likes of Money Saving expert, Relate, National Family Mediation, 4 Children, Mumsnet, Dad.info, Gransnet, Wikivorce and Child Maintenance Options and can be accessed at: www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk/en/hub/
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