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Currently running online, the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is a course that helps parents understand separation from a child’s point of view and learn the fundamental principles of how to manage and reduce the impact of conflict on their children. 

Parents can also refer themselves to attend the course for a fee of £99. If you have recently separated and have yet to apply to the Family Courts you may be eligible for limited free places we are offering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See ‘How to access the service independently’ below. Court-ordered parents don’t pay to attend the course.

How it works

The course is a four-hour programme run during the daytime including at weekends or split over two consecutive evenings into two hour sessions, which can be helpful for parents with small children. It is delivered to small groups of four to seven male and female parents, on Zoom, by experienced, trained and friendly facilitators. Former partners don’t attend the same session but it is important that both parents go on a programme.  

The course provides a safe place to:

  • Learn what children need most when their parents are separating
  • Develop practical skills and ideas to improve communication and reduce conflict
  • Get support from parents in similar situations
  • Access additional support available to parents and children
  • Understand and reflect on the emotional impact of separation on parents

If you are a court-ordered parent we will contact you to arrange a place. If you are attending independently, please fill in the referral form below and we will contact you to arrange a date to attend (see How to access the service below).

Who is the service for

Family Action run the service for parents court-ordered to attend in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Liverpool, Cheshire and Merseyside. Our partner organisation Polaris (formerly Core Asssets Children’s Services) deliver the programme in Sheffield, West Yorkshire, Birkenhead, Chester and Crewe, Reading and Guildford. Currently all programmes are running online. We accept parents referring themselves from all areas across the UK.

Parents are either ‘directed’ by the Court to attend or choose to attend the course themselves independently. If court-ordered they are required to go. A Cafcass-funded service, there is no charge to these parents to attend. An interpreter service is available and we will provide additional support if you need it.

If you need to attend as a court-ordered parent and live in another area please contact your local provider which you can find on the Cafcass national directory here.

A SPIP is appropriate if there are no safeguarding concerns about children or parents.

How to access the service

Independently

Parents can choose to attend the course independently of the family courts to help with the difficulties separated families often face. This is known as a Dispute Resolution or DRSPIP.  We accept parents referring themselves from all areas across the UK.  The course is sometimes recommended by solicitors. For other parents, attending the SPIP can help them resolve disputes without approaching the Family Courts and reduce the length and impact of conflict. There is a fee to attend of £99.

As part of Family Action’s COVID-19 response, we have a limited number of free places for parents who may be considering separation, recently separated or attending mediation and won’t have any court proceedings planned or underway.

Parents who would like to attend independently can complete our referral form and return to us at spips@family-action.org.uk to book a place.

We will arrange a time to speak with you to briefly check you’ll benefit from the course, offer you a range of course dates and times, confirm a date and send you additional information to help you understand how the course will help you.

If directed by a court

If the Court has directed you to attend, Cafcass will send you a letter of introduction and forward your details to your nearest provider who will then contact you to book you a place on the programme. Cafcass expects you to attend within twenty days.  Your welcome letter will include a unique seven digit code which you’ll need to bring to the session to register your attendance. There is no charge to attend the course as a court-ordered parent.

We will send you confirmation with a map with local information including parking details. You’re also welcome to contact our team coordinators for directions or other local information.

The difference we make

What parents say

“It has helped me understand the effects that the separation between us may have had on our children.”

“Was good to talk to other people going through similar stuff. It was nice to know you’re not the only one.”

“Amazing. Very good at involving everyone and helping you to understand difficult situations.”

“Done extremely well considering the difficulties we’re all facing. I was put at ease and felt comfortable for the whole of the course.”

Parent comments April-July 2020

Downloads and further information

Cafcass list of SPIP providers by location

Cafcass list of SPIP providers by location

If you live outside the areas we cover you can find your local SPIP provider here.

Parenting Plan

Parenting Plan

The Parenting Plan is a written plan worked out between parents after they separate and it covers the practical issues of parenting. It can help clarify the arrangements you need to put in place to care for your children after separation, without having to go to court

Sorting Out Separation

Sorting Out Separation

An expert government-backed source of advice and online tools on a range of issues including financial and legal difficulties, parenting, health and housing.

Run by the leading separation research charity One Plus One, offers a free skills-based programme that complements the SPIP. It helps you work out what’s best for your children and manage conflict with your ex partner. Cafcass advise parents to access the course before or after the programme.

There’s also a listening room where you can chat live online to trained mediators, a discussion forum and a list of local mediation organisations.

SPIP Factsheet

SPIP Factsheet

More information about the contact services we run in Peterborough Peterborough Contact Centre factsheet.

Latest government guidance on child contact arrangements under COVID-19

Latest government guidance on child contact arrangements under COVID-19

During the current Coronavirus Crisis some parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangements Orders made by the Family Court have been understandably concerned about their ability to meet the requirements of these court orders safely. This short statement is intended to offer advice but, as the circumstances of each child and family will differ, any advice is given is general and not specific to each family.

Contact us

For any queries contact our team at Head Office
T: 020 7241 7456 or 0207254 6251 (extension 6657) E: spips@family-action.org.uk
Open Monday- Friday 10.00-16.00. We receive a high volume of calls so please leave a voicemail if the line is busy. We will get back to you within two working days.

If you want local information about the programme contact our local coordinator: Tracy Gore 07791382964