“It’s now easier to talk to my ex about childcare” “helps me react better to stress”. Courses and services helping separated parents put their children first

Two supervised contact managers told us how they work with parents, helping them to reviewing their progress and access complementary services to benefit them and their children now and in the future.

Lesley from Grassroots Child Contact Service in Lancashire told us their approach for supervised contact is structured often due to time limits on the contact and explained about their ‘Next Steps Meeting’: “Commissioned by CAFCASS this not only looks at how the contact sessions have progressed but also what steps the parents have made to complete a parenting plan, completing the ‘Getting it right for children when parent part’ programme and completing the SPIP. They are advised to access other support such as the ‘Sorting out Separation’ website. This is introduced at the beginning of the sessions. Skills learned can help to make sure contact does not breakdown in the future.”

Sheila from Relate Dorset & South Wilshire explained the variety of services that parents can access: “Relate has a range of complementary services on site so we are easily able to arrange signposting to counselling, mediation services, SPIP and parenting plans and staff have the confidence to guide parents to known quality services. We are in the fortunate position in Dorset of being able to offer free Dispute Resolution SPIP (DRSPIP) ie direct access without court order, subject to a short DV screening as part of the national pilot. It is certainly helpful not to have the cost as an additional barrier to attendance.”

What is available? What can I access?

What is a SPIP? (Separated Parents Information Programme)

This course helps you understand how to put your children first while you are separating, even though you may be in dispute with your child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties. You will not attend the same session as your ex.

How do parents access?

Search SPIP on www.cafcass.gov.uk for local providers ‘/’Working Together 4 Children (WT4C)’ in Wales. Cost: Free in some areas or if referred via Cafcass, otherwise cost is £150 or part thereof.

Lesley (Grassroots Child Contact Service) says “We insist that parents attend the SPIP preferably before they come to us.”

What is a MIAM? (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting)

The first meeting with a mediator is often called a MIAM. Mediators work out with you whether mediation is right for you and your family, discussing how many sessions you may need, the cost and whether you might get legal aid to pay for the mediation. They can be held separately from your ex. However you can go to the meeting together if you prefer. Time will always be spent with each person alone to make sure they have made their own decision to come to mediation and are not at risk of any harm or abuse.The mediator can also give you information about other services that provide help and support and the other options you might have to resolve things.

How do parents access?

Search MIAM on www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk Cost: Free if eligible for legal aid, otherwise (£25-£50).

Amanda from Derby Child Contact Centre says “We have an agreement with a local mediation service offering a MIAM for £25 per parent if nether qualify for legal aid. All parents are told they are expected to attend a MIAM every 6 months. I enforce it loosely – sometimes you just know that they are not in a place where mediation will work – but it creates an expectation that there will be progress!”

What is the GIRFC? (Getting it Right for Children when Parents Part programme)

Getting it Right for Children is the top priority for most parents when they part. However, it can be stressful at times and even communicating about day-to-day arrangements can be difficult.

Getting it Right for Children is a 4-step online programme which uses real life situations to show how things can go wrong and how they can be done better and it is free to use.

After completing the programme parents say they find it easier to talk to their partner about childcare arrangements, find solutions to childcare issues as they arise, and stay calm when talking to their partner.

Parents experience different family scenarios and develop skills in Staying Calm, Listening, Speaking for Yourself, Negotiating and Working it Out – helping them to avoid putting their children in the middle.

Cost: Free!

How do parents access?

Sign up at http://theparentconnection.org.uk

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