Research and analysis

Separated parents information programme (PIP): an evaluation of the costs and effectiveness - brief

Report summarising an evaluation identifying the actual and future potential of the parenting information programme (PIP).

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Currently 1 in 10 parents who separate or divorce seek the assistance of the courts in making decisions about contact arrangements for their children. Research in this area suggests that courts have limited impact on the key co-parenting factors that make contact arrangements sustainable and work best for children. Researchers conclude that resources should be redirected from the courts to more creative programmes that seek to improve parental relationships and help them settle contact arrangements independently.

PIP is the first available programme for parents involved in litigation about child contact and residence in England. The programme is a contact activity, introduced by the Children and Adoption Act 2006 as a tool for courts to facilitate contact.

The evaluation, summarised in this brief, was designed to identify the actual and future potential of the parenting information programme as an effective and value for money intervention for parents with disputes over parenting arrangements, with a particular goal to inform the deliberations of the Family Justice Review.

The review aims to understand the court and non-court pathways undertaken by parents attending PIP, and how this compares to the experiences of comparable non-PIP cases. It measures the affect on families of PIPs compared to other court-based pathways and the average cost of providing PIP and its cost-effectiveness in comparison with other court-based pathways. It also looks to understand in more depth why PIP might work better in some circumstances than others, including what parents and professionals perceive to be helpful and unhelpful about PIP and what changes may be required.

Published 10 June 2011