A new online course to help parents communicate and work together to agree parenting arrangements
Planning Together for Children is a newly developed course aimed to assist parents in prioritising their children’s needs when going through a separation.
It has been created the Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) and launched on behalf of the Ministry of Justice to provide support for parents involved in private law family court proceedings.
The new online Cafcass parenting course replaces the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP), which was attended by approximately 24,000 parents each year. The new set of resources have been developed based on the feedback received from these parents.
Planning Together for Children motivates parents to contemplate ways they can communicate and collaborate to establish parenting arrangements without resorting to additional court proceedings.
Additionally, the program emphasises the significance of understanding how disagreements and arguments between separating parents can worry their children and have an adverse effect on their overall wellbeing and development.
The course includes a self-paced e-learning component that lasts up to two hours, as well as a group workshop that takes two and a half hours.
The group sessions will be limited to a maximum of six parents or caregivers and will be available at various times during the day, evening, and weekends to allow parents to participate in a way that is most convenient for them.
The e-learning can be completed on any device, including a tablet, smartphone, or computer. The learning materials for the new program were created in partnership with the Family Justice Young People’s Board members, the Cafcass Family Forum, and a diverse range of organisations that have expertise in working with children.
The course content will cover various themes, such as the emotional impact of parental separation, the effects of parental conflict on children, the potential outcomes of court hearings, and next steps for moving forward.
Parents will also learn strategies to manage conflict and improve communication, including considering their child’s point of view.
The course will emphasise the importance of ensuring that children have access to both parents, provided that it is safe, and highlight the benefits of low conflict levels between parents for a child’s overall wellbeing.
Online parenting plan
Parents will also be prompted to develop an online parenting plan, which is a written document outlining the arrangements and agreements that have been reached for their children.
The parenting plan will cover topics such as the frequency of children’s visitation with each parent, how special occasions and holidays will be spent, and significant decisions regarding education and healthcare.
The plan may also address smaller matters such as phone calls, pocket money and pets. Creating this document is a collaborative effort that encourages parents to prioritise the best interests, wishes and feelings of their children.
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.
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.”
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It is important for parents to work together to reach an agreement that meets the needs of their child and works well for everyone involved. It is hoped that Planning Together for Children will help parents become more amicable when managing arrangements for their children.
If parents are unable to agree, they may need to seek professional assistance to help resolve their differences and engage in a child arrangement agreement that is in the best interest of their child. Our expert divorce solicitors are here to offer legal advice to help guide you through your divorce and all the elements that go with that, including child and childcare arrangements and financial settlements.
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