Lottery-funded research calls for better support for separated dads and their children

2 March 2009

Separated families: how mainstream services support disadvantaged children and their non-resident parents – a report prepared by the Tavistock Institute for the Big Lottery Fund – has recommended a new, multi-agency approach to supporting separated families.

The study found that service providers in departments such as education, housing and social services believed that the needs of non-resident parents and their children should be met by a co-ordinated approach involving statutory and voluntary services. But none thought it was their primary responsibility. A greater extent of multi-agency working would help to address the needs of non-resident fathers, but the study team suggested that a strategic approach, rather than an ad hoc arrangement, is needed.

Features of an improved service would include:

  • Services for parents that cover various stages in the separation, available and accessible at times when they are most needed by parents (especially at weekends)
  • More child contact centres where non-resident parents can meet with their children
  • More parenting support where there has been a delay in establishing contact, especially with very young children
  • More support for non-resident parents in the sample (mainly dads) experiencing mental health problems
  • Better counselling support for children, available in schools.

The proposal for the research project was originally submitted to the Big Lottery Fund by a partnership led by the Fatherhood Institute (then Fathers Direct) in association with Children in Wales, with research to be carried out by the Policy Research Bureau (PRB). In March 2007, PRB closed and the research, along with two of the researchers, Judy Corlyon and Daniel Clay, moved to the Tavistock Institute.

To read the study report, download it from the ‘Related Documents’ section below.

Tavistock report on separated families

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