Cafcass has launched a new course to help parents to prioritise their children’s needs during separation.
Planning Together for Children, a programme created by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), has been launched on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to provide online support for parents involved in private law family court proceedings.
It replaces the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP). Around 24,000 parents are referred to a SPIP course every year and their feedback has been used to develop this new set of resources, according to Cafcass.
Planning Together for Children encourages parents to consider how they can communicate and work together to agree parenting arrangements without the need for more court hearings and to understand how disagreements and arguments can worry their children and impact on their wellbeing and development, said Cafcass.
The new programme aims to reduce the time families spend in family court proceedings and to lower the number of families returning to court.
Cafcass Chief Executive, Jacky Tiotto, said:
“Children often think that parental separation is their fault. They also often feel caught in the middle if there is conflict and sometimes they are encouraged to or feel that they have to take sides with one parent over another. This is something they tell us time and again causes them distress. They find the uncertainty scary especially as they worry about what will happen to their friendships, their schooling and contact with their wider family.
Planning Together for Children is a new and improved course that has been designed in collaboration with children and young people and that helps parents to prioritise their safety and their welfare.”
Cafcass have said that the learning materials have been developed in collaboration with Family Justice Young People’s Board members and the Cafcass Family Forum as well as a wide range of organisations with experience of working with children.
Justice Minister Lord Bellamy told Cafcass:
“I want to protect children from the damaging impact family separation can have on their life chances. Our proposed reforms to fund mandatory mediation will help families find more reasonable resolutions away from the adversarial atmosphere of a courtroom.
Planning Together for Children builds on these and will help ensure parents put their child’s wellbeing first, making them feel supported through what can be an incredibly challenging time.”