Written by Claire Field

Managing Director at The Parenting Apart Programme

Claire is an expert social care consultant, whose previous roles include Managing Director of Contact Care UK Ltd. Claire has extensive experience of delivering the Separated Parents Information Programme. Claire recognised the programme’s limitations, and from her extensive experience, identified how to address the gaps to significantly improve outcomes. The result is the Parenting Apart Programme, an early intervention that prevents long-term negative impacts for children’s emotional health and wellbeing when their parents separate or divorce. The programme is unique in the UK.

Parents who have decided to separate or divorce are being offered the chance of a quicker, less costly resolution thanks to a service that puts the emotional and mental needs of their children first.

The Parenting Apart Programme, is promoting a scheme which can reduce the stress, trauma, and conflict of a family breakdown by making the emotional wellbeing of the children the main priority. The programme aims to support and swiftly restore positive and respectful communication between parents, especially where the non-resident parent and child do not have a relationship with each other.

“Court proceedings are expensive, traumatic, and a divorce can average around £16,000 and take 18 months”

Claire Field, Social Care Consultant and Author of The Parenting Apart Programme, said: “Parents can come together whenever and however they wish, in order to start to communicate and plan all their children’s arrangements. Claire is currently sitting on the Private Law Sub Group Committee and advocating to improve the support offered to families.

“Court proceedings are expensive, traumatic, and a divorce can average around £16,000 and take 18 months. Many people come to us having already spent tens of thousands of pounds and are often not speaking to one another. Sadly, we often deal with situations where a child has even lost contact and their relationship with one of their parents.

“The programme is specifically designed to remind people that they are parents first and foremost and that their battle is having a devastating impact on their children’s emotional and mental wellbeing and development. Our challenge is to deal with often warring parents, and a high level of emotion, and support them to feel safe and secure to come together as parents and the lever for that is the voice of the children.

We have piloted this programme with 294 parents with great success. 85% completed it of which 100% reported reduced stress and anxiety; 100% improved communication; and 45% improved mental wellbeing.  A professionally prepared Social Return on Investment report analysed our results from 2017-19. We delivered over £10.2m of social value. In the year in which the parents attend the programme the social value delivered is over £4.65 million. This is £31,649 of social value per couple that separates or divorces. For every £1 spent delivering the programme a SROI of £46.52 was generated.

The four-week programme involves individual and joint face-to-face sessions, Parent Working Agreements, telephone support and continued advice and guidance. The aim of this intervention is to help parents formalise an agreement that identifies important issues such as childcare arrangements, residency, holidays, schooling and the child’s wishes and feelings. Unlike mediation, the agreement can be filed alongside a Court order to confirm arrangements made by the parents if required. At the end of the programme, parents receive a letter to confirm that they have attended an Alternative Dispute Resolution which then allows them to self-certify the C100 if Court is needed.

 

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