This research explored why some separated fathers find it difficult to work with their child’s mother to establish a collaborative parenting arrangement, and to access support which might help them do so. The report was commissioned to inform the development of Help and Support for Separated Families - a new initiative which seeks to help families to work together during and after separation. There was a particular focus on fathers from disadvantaged and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. The research took place in March and April 2012 and involved eight focus groups in London, with fathers who are engaged in initiatives run by Working With Men - a London based charity which is already working with this “hard to reach” group.
Previous research  has shown that children in black African and black Caribbean families are more likely than average to grow up in lone parent households, and that young men and men from BME communities are the hardest to engage in support services . Therefore, this group was seen as a particular target for the new service and for the research.
A series of products that will make up Help and Support for Separated Families are currently being developed. Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has previously announced that £20m will be made available to better coordinate support services and create new provision. As part of this the Government will be investing in:
- a web application, that will provide help and support as well as diagnosis to prioritise needs and signpost specialist services for separated parents;
- a Help and Support for Separated Families mark that will show parents which organisations work with both parents to support collaboration;
- telephone and local support for parents who need more intensive support or cannot access the internet. £14m of this money will be invested in an Innovation Fund to explore effective interventions to help parents work together in the best interests of their children.
Platt, L. 2009. Ethnicity and Child Poverty. DWP Report 576
Johal, A, Shelupanov, A and Norman, W. (2012) Invisible Men: Engaging more Men in Social Projects. Big Lottery Fund (unpublished)