The Separated Parents Information Programme is a course attended by parents either voluntarily or through the Court. This is designed to help separated parents learn what their child needs most providing tips and advice on how to make a co-parenting relationship work. All facilitators are experienced within the field of supporting families through parental separation and conflict.
This is a programme that is open to both resident and non-resident members of the family e.g. grandparents, so they have a better understanding of the needs of the child. Although it is strongly recommended that both parents attend the group, you will not be attending the same group as the other parent, separate groups are always arranged. A risk assessment is carried out on the participants first to ensure it is safe for them to attend.
The programme encourages parents to take steps for themselves as it is often better to reach an agreement away from Court and make sure that any agreement is based on the needs of the child.
The facilitators are not there to mediate or say that one parent is wrong but to provide advice and participate in group discussions. They will assist the parents with their communication skills and how to use these skills for the benefit of the child. The facilitators will explain to the parents that this is a learning curve and they must persist with these skills to try and make things better.
What the programme covers:
- Working as separated parents in the best interests of your children
- What children need- a DVD will be shown to the group highlighting what is clear for the child to see and help them identify how their behaviour affects the child as well as identify what the issues are
- Communication- Parents will be asked to think about the prepared scenarios from others viewpoints. They will also see and try out some methods that can help both parents react better to stressful situations
- Emotions- Parents will look at the emotional effect of separation and the options for moving forward
The first half of the programme is designed to help the parents establish how they currently manage their co- parenting and their behaviour. The second half of the programme is to work on skills to improve their behaviour for the child.
The main aim of the programme is to reduce conflict through better communication, and to understand how each party feels. It helps each parent to manage themselves in order to work through a difficult time period, for the needs of the child. The facilitators will inform the parents of a parenting plan which is a written plan worked out between the parents after they separate. It must be designed to focus on the best interests of the child, and should set out a shared commitment to the child and their future.
The programme also provides information on the One Plus One- Strengthening Relationships charity. This is an online programme offered to parents who have separated and enables them to watch cases of parental separation and how each party feels.
There is no waiting list for the course and the cost of self-referral is partly funded, meaning a cost of £75 per person.
Parents are encouraged to self-refer and work with the programme, before attending Mediation or Court. Although many parents are reluctant to attend, attitudes significantly change following the course. Feedback from the participants is generally very positive with parents stating that they wished they had attended the programme sooner.
Following the programme 82% are more aware of how children respond to divorce and separation, 82% are more aware of the impact high conflict has on children and 89% were able to think and discuss their children's needs during separation.