Councils to work with DWP to support families to resolve parental conflict
Local authorities can now apply to train frontline staff who regularly come into contact with families facing conflict so they can intervene to reduce ‘friction’ between parents and help ‘shield’ their children.
The Government has announced almost £4 million funding has been announced for councils in England to help resolve conflict between parents experiencing “severe relationship difficulties”.
The Parental Conflict programme will work with local family services – including health and social care, the courts and the police – to help them spot parental conflict, provide initial support and refer parents to further interventions such as therapy for a constructive resolution.
Internal research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shows nearly 9 in 10 councils believe the programme’s practitioner training is important to embedding support into their services and are positive about the programme’s potential to improve outcomes for children in the areas.
DWP Lords Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said the pandemic has been a difficult for families who have been “cooped up” or apart from each other for longer periods of time.
“Every child deserves the best start in life and this programme aims to do just that by protecting child mental wellbeing through healthier relationships between parents – whether together or separated.”
The Government says the programme is designed to resolve parental conflict, not domestic abuse. Those in abusive relationships will instead be referred to specialist support.
Since 2017, the DWP says it has worked with nearly 150 councils to help them develop strategies for approaching conflict below the domestic abuse threshold, including investigating the issue of frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict between parents and how it impacts children’s wellbeing.
The programme aims to increase understanding of these issues at a local level, undertaking projects working with charities and sharing evidence on what works, citing as an example the successful #SeeItDifferently videos which have attracted almost a million views by parents in court.
The #SeeItDifferently videos show, through the eyes of children, the emotional damage of arguments between parents and how differently it could have played out if disagreements were communicated calmly and constructively.
The DWP says councils overwhelmingly recognise parental conflict as an important, but often blurry issue that can lead to difficult consequences for children.
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